(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Memoirs and letters of Madame Malibran"

MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 



OP 



MADAME MALIBRA N. J ^ 



BY THE 

COUNTESS^DE MERLIN.) 
" A 



> 



WITH NOTICES OF THE 



PROGRESS OF THE MUSICAL DRAMA 
IN ENGLAND. 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 



: - vol 11 



PHILADELPHIA: 
CAREY AND HART. 



(Ls 



1840. } % 



ESTATE OF 

JOSEPH H. CENTER, 

JULY 14, 1903. 



X 'VrS&A. 



C. SHERMAN AND CO. PRINTERS. 



CONTENTS OF VOL. II. 



CHAPTER I. 

Early years of Maria Garcia. Character and accomplishments. 
Voice. Departure for New York. Reception and success 
of the Italian Opera in New York. Maria's marriage. 
Failure of her husband. Reappearance on the stage. De- 
parture for Europe. + 13 

CHAPTER II. 

Malibran's arrival in Paris (1827). Makes her debut in Semi- 
ramide. Success. Desdemona. Italian opera in London 
(1829.) Ancient Concerts. Chester Festival. Gloucester. 
Appears in Susannah at Covent Garden. Reappearance in 
Paris. Ancient Concerts in London (1830). Fidalma. La 
Cenerentola. Orazzi. Liverpool Festival. Paris (1831). 
Bologna (1832.) 20 



CHAPTER III. 

The Corinne of Madame de Stael, the prototype of Malibran. 
Malibran in Rome. At Milan. English and Italians com- 
pared. Venice. Teatro Garcia. 27 



IV CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Malibran's re-appearance at Naples. At Milan. Return to 
Paris. Italians and the French compared. Malibran again 
revisits Italy. Paris. London. Sonnambula at Drury 
Lane. Fidelio. Divorce. Marriage with De Beriot. The 
Maid of Artois. Madame de Beriot visits the continent for 
the last time. 35 

CHAPTER V. 

Oratorios. York festival. Malibran's great success. Opi- 
nions of the press. Spectator. Atlas. Athenaeum. 45 

CHAPTER VI. 

Private life of Madame Malibran. Her genius. Early 
perfect developement of her powers. Her perception of 
national character. Her Desdemona in Paris. Her 
accomplishments. Her freedom from professional envy and 
jealousy. 51 

CHAPTER VII. 

Malibran courted by the English aristocracy. The Duchess 
of St. Albans. Fete at Holly Lodge. The Duchess's 
presents to Malibran at her last benefit. - 56 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Anecdotes. The Americans. Malibran and the shepherds. 
" Molly put the kettle on." Presentiment of early death. 
Presentiment of evil. An accident. 60 

CHAPTER IX. 

Malibran's versatility. Quality of her voice, and its manage- 
ment. Tours deforce. 68 



CONTENTS. V 

CHAPTER X. 

Manchester Festival. Illness of Madame Malibran. Death. 72 



Last scene of all — Death and funeral. 77 

Notes, Anecdotes, &c. - - - - - 105 
Letters, 145 

The Progress of the English Opera. - - - -175 



SECOND MEMOIR. 



SECOND MEMOIR. 



CHAPTER L 



Early years of Maria Garcia. Character and accomplishments. 
Voice. Departure for New York. Reception and success 
of the Italian Opera in New York. Maria's marriage. 
Failure of her husband. Reappearance on the stage. De- 
parture for Europe. 

Maria Felicia was the eldest daughter of Ma- 
nuel and Joaquina Garcia, and was born at Paris 
on the 24th of March, 1808. At the age of eight 
years she was brought over to this country, where 
she continued without intermission for nearly nine 
years. 

From her earliest girlhood she gave tokens of 
her future excellence : her gayety, the vivacity of 

VOL. II. 2 



14 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

her impressions, her warmth of feeling, her generous 
temperament, were innate manifestations of a being 
enriched with all those graces, qualities, virtues, 
and accomplishments, in which she afterwards, 
and at a more matured period, excelled ; for though 
known to the public only for her supereminent 
powers as a musician, she was in private life 
equally appreciated for her amiable disposition and 
mental acquirements. Like most persons adorned 
by the greatness of their endowments, she was, in 
her earlier youth, diffident of her own powers. Her 
genius was an impetus, more than an inclination ; 
but it was an impetus controlled by a desire to 
deserve the praises she received, as well as to 
imitate the perfections of the best ; and this feeling 
led her to aspire to an excellence even beyond the 
pale of mere ordinary mortality. 

At the early age of sixteen, her voice had ac- 
quired so much power, both as to intonation and 
execution, that she appeared at the King's Theatre 
in the part of Rosina in II Barbiere di Siviglia. She 
subsequently performed Felicia, Meyerbeer's Cro- 
ciato in Egitto, to Velluti's Armando: her perform- 
ances were eminently successful, and were conse- 
quently received as the index of future excellence. 
In the autumn of the same year she appeared with 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. J 5 

an increased credit to herself at the York Festival, 
where she sang, among other pieces, " Rejoice 
greatly," in the Messiah, and "Una voce poco fa." 
But the gem on that occasion was the " Alma in- 
vitta," from Rossini's Sigismondo. 

Maria's voice was a rich contralto, possessing 
all the qualities of a soprano. Her intonation was 
perfect. Hers was, in fact, a persuasive voice, that 
bent us to its wish, and realized the sentiment of the 
poet equally with the feelings of the audience. 
" She could," says a talented writer, " like the 
singers of ancient days, transport the mind into 
sublimity, infuse the spirit of benevolence, inspire 
divine energy, arouse the slumbering conscience, 
restore social sympathies, regulate moral feelings, 
restrain the fury of ambition, unlock the iron grasp 
of avarice, expand the liberal palm to deeds of 
charity, breathe the sacred love of peace into the 
bosom of the turbulent, and the mild spirit of for- 
bearance and toleration into persecuting bigotry 
and prejudice."* Her decorations, we may add, 
resembled the natural inflections of the nightingale, 
or the warblings of zephyrs upon an iEolian harp; 
yet never unadapted to the nature of the melody, or 
the genius of the composition. 

* Mr. I. Nathan. 



16 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

In the winter of 1825, Manuel Garcia having 
assembled a company for the purpose of opening an 
Italian opera at New York, carried his daughter 
from the scene of her early triumph. Having 
crossed the Atlantic, she, like another Columbus, 
sought to explore a new region, .untrodden as yet 
by the Graces or the Muses. Young, ardent, and 
intrepid, she seemed to be endowed with the spirit 
of the first discoverer of that long hidden world. 
But it is too often to be observed that the first 
undertakers of a new enterprise are generally the 
only persons who are unfortunate in their experi- 
ments; they waste their energies and their strength 
in overcoming a difficulty, of which those who are 
destined immediately to follow, reap the fruit and 
the advantage. The trials, the difficulties of 
Columbus, the noblest and the gentlest of men, 
were rewarded with the laurels of honour and 
applause; but the leaves soon dropped from his 
brow, withered by the blast of calumny, and 
darkened by the vapours of detraction, till the 
favours of the multitude were at length turned 
into hate. He who performed every thing, en- 
countered every thing, suffered every thing, was 
supplanted, vilified, and traduced, and finally over- 
whelmed. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAIV. 17 

The comparison is perhaps incorrect, as refers 
to the professional enterprise of Malibran. She 
had no enemies; but was nevertheless destined, 
in place of reaping the due reward of her perse- 
verance, to pass through one long-continued scene 
of mortification and disaster : her talents, compara- 
tively speaking, unrewarded, — the affairs of her 
family sinking into confusion, — and, to conclude 
the catalogue of her misfortunes, her marriage un- 
fortunate, as, in obedience to their wish, she gave a 
hand, we fear, without a heart, to Francois Eugene 
Malibran. 

Strange to say, the only opera of the New 
World, supported as it was by the unremitting 
exertions of Mademoiselle Garcia, the known 
abilities of her father, together with the assist- 
ance of a very efficient company, failed in pro- 
curing an adequate remuneration for even the 
outlay attendant upon an establishment of the kind. 
New York, which ranks next to London as to 
intelligence, commerce, and resources, could not, or 
would not, retain the prize that had been offered to 
it in the superior genius of Malibran. After many 
struggles, the finances of the Corps Operatique fell 
into confusion, and it was finally dissolved. 

2* 



18 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

Nevertheless, the youthful debutante found friends 
in that country ; and we may quote, from no 
unworthy authority, the opinion of the intellec- 
tual class of the Americans : — " The whole suc- 
cess of the opera rested upon the exertions of 
Mademoiselle Garcia, a host in herself. Her 
talents were appreciated by the transatlantic dilet- 
tanti. She was idolized, and to this day her vocal 
powers stand pre-eminently exalted in their estima- 
tion."* 

It was in the midst of these disheartening and 
distressing circumstances that M. Eugene Malibran 
sued for and obtained the hand of the accomplished 
exile of more genial countries. There is a current 
that sometimes run against us, which it is in vain to 
attempt to oppose or resist. It is the tide not lead- 
ing on to fortune. 

Not long after her marriage, fresh misfortunes 
occurred. Eugene Malibran became a bankrupt, 
the inhabitant of a jail. This passage in Madame 
Malibran's short and brilliant career, though dark- 
ened by the predominance of so many sad and 
depressing circumstances, forms nevertheless an 
epoch in her life, of which, but for these very 

* Mr. I. Nathan. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 19 

same calamities, we should have as yet known 
nothing. This unfortunate era of her life reveals 
to our view this amiable woman exerting her 
talents with undiminished ardour to liquidate the 
debts that were not of her own contracting, 
and giving up even her marriage settlement to 
the creditors of her husband. We here, in fact, 
behold the successful debutante, without a murmur, 
exerting all the energies, all her faculties, in behalf 
and for the benefit of a man whom she once 
trusted as the being the most capable of sheltering 
her from the storms and troubles of sublunary vicis- 
situdes. 

To complete her misfortunes, her efforts on the 
bleak stage of the American hemisphere, on which, 
after her husband's bankruptcy, she appeared in 
English characters, were but indifferently repaid ; 
so that her health, her youth, her grace, her beauty, 
and her genius, were alike sacrificed, since altoge- 
ther united they availed her nothing. From this 
consideration, it was at last resolved upon by her 
family that she should return to Europe. 



20 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 



CHAPTER II. 



Malibran's arrival in Paris (1827). Makes her debut in Semi- 
ramide. Success. Desdemona. Italian opera in London 
(1829.) Ancient Concerts. Chester Festival. Gloucester. 
Appears in Susannah at Covent Garden. Reappearance in 
Paris. Ancient Concerts in London (1830). Fidalma. La 
Cenerentola. Orazzi. Liverpool Festival. Paris (1831). 
Bologna (1832.) 



In 1827, therefore, the unhappy Malibran re- 
turned to Europe, from which she had in an evil 
day departed, and once more took her station amidst 
the accomplished circles which, enraptured with 
genius, hailed her return with delight. 

She arrived in Paris totally alone and unprovided 
for. She was received by her husband's sister. 

She shortly after made her appearance, for the 
first time before a Parisian audience, in the part of 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 21 

Semiramide. A timidity, too often the accompani- 
ment of superior talent, interrupted her for a moment 
in the difficult passage, " Trema il tempo ;" but rally- 
ing her powers, she concluded the performance amidst 
the plaudits of an audience predetermined to criti- 
cize, and previously impressed with the meritorious 
abilities of singers equally gifted with herself. The 
intellect, so superior to the mere merits of a canta- 
trice, was soon felt. Her pleasing, varied, and as- 
tonishing dramatic talent, her grace, and the vivid- 
ness of all her impersonations, proved irresistible 
assistants to the melodious power of song, and Mali- 
bran was triumphant ! A French critic, describing 
her first appearance in Semiramide, says : " If Ma- 
dame Malibran must yield the palm to Pasta in point 
of acting, she possesses a marked superiority in re- 
spect to singing." 

In the same season her performance of Desde- 
mona created a strong sensation, from her deep feel- 
ing and fine acting. This was in her nineteenth 
year, and when the performance of Pasta was fresh 
in the recollection of the audience. In February, 
1829, Madame Malibran and Mademoiselle Sontag 
appeared for the last time together. 

Her next engagement was at our own Italian 



22 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

Opera, where she appeared on the 21st of March, 
1829, in the character of Desdemona. Her range 
of characters at this period were Rosina, Semira- 
mide, Romeo, Tancredi, Ninetta, and Zerlina. 

On the 25th of April, in the same season, she 
sang her first song at the Ancient Concerts. She 
was engaged at the Chester Festival of 1829, when 
she sang " O had I Jubal's lyre," " Praise the Lord," 
and " Rejoice greatly ;" which pieces, from her not 
yet having made herself sufficiently acquainted with 
the style of Handel, were pronounced at the time to 
be unsuccessful efforts. In the " Deh parlati" of 
Cimarosa, she is described as exhibiting the very 
triumph of profound and touching expression. At 
the Gloucester Meeting, in September, she sang the 
"Ombra Adorata" from Zingarelli's Romeo, and at 
Birmingham in the following month, she shone 
forth in great power. The old musicians said that 
Handel's " Holy holy" had never been so finely 
sung since the days of Mara. Who that heard can 
forget her last singing of it ? Here, too, she sang 
for the first time the " Non piu di fiori" of Mozart, 
Willman accompanying. 

Previous to her Birmingham engagement, she had 
volunteered her gratuitous services for the benefit of 



OF MADAME MALIBRAtf. 23 

the proprietors of Covent Garden Theatre, then in 
a state approaching to bankruptcy ; and made 
her first appearance in London in an English part, 
as Susannah in the Marriage of Figaro. 

In the winter of 1829 she made her reappearance 
in Paris, in the part of Ninetta in La Gazza Ladra ; 
and in the following January she assisted at the 
benefit of Sontag, in the character of Tancredi. 

On the 28th of April, 1830, she reappeared at our 
Ancient Concerts, when she sang the " Ombra 
Adorata," the duetto from Cimarosa's "Gli Orazzi," 
" Ivenami omai," with Donzelli, and the " Placido e 
il mar," from the Idomeneo. At the last concert of 
that season, May 5th, 1830, she sang the "Holy 
holy," " Non piu di fiori," and the duet, " Deh 
prendi," from the same opera (La Clemenza,) At 
the sixth Philharmonic Concert, May 17, she re- 
peated the " Non piu di fiori," and sang, with Mr. 
H. Phillips, " Bell Imago," from the Semiramide. 

It is a credit to our English audiences that they 
always appreciated the very perfect air from La 
Clemenza. We remember upon one occasion, when 
our national taste in music was being depreciated in 
Malibran's hearing, that she, in her own animated 
way, undertook to defend us on that score, and 



24 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

ended by saying, " That she never sang such a pro- 
portion of classical music in any country throughout 
Europe as she did in England." If we wanted a 
proof of the unenvious character of her disposition, 
we should find it in the gratification she ever ex- 
pressed towards Willman for the. execution of those 
lovely passages for the " Corno di bassetto," and 
which performance, so full of soul, so exquisite in 
expression, she felt entitled him to a very large pro- 
portion of the applause bestowed upon the singer. 

On the 13th of March she played Fidalma for two 
or three nights, upon the celebrated first appearance 
of Lablache in this country. Her descending run 
of the double octave in the trio, " Lei faccio un 
inchino," electrified the audience. On the 29th of 
April she appeared in a part unworthy of her talents 
— Angelina in La Cenerentola. At the ninth Ancient 
Concert of 1830, May 12, she introduced the song, 
" II caro ben," from Sacchini's Perseo. In the same 
month, Gli Orazzi e Curiazzi, (Cimarosa) was re- 
vived, and our heroine appeared as Orazzia. The 
performance was distinguished by the grandest 
efforts, both in singing and acting, particularly in 
her last scene, where she denounces her brother for 
having slain her lover. At the Worcester Festival, 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 25 

which took place on the 14th, 15th, and 16th of 
September, and the Norwich on the 21st, 22d, 
23d, and 24th of the same month, she was 
engaged. 

At the Liverpool Festival, October the 5th, 6th, 
7th, and 8th, she performed among other pieces, the 
" Gratias agimus," with Willman, the " O Salutaris" 
of Cherubino, and, with Mrs. Knyvett, Marcello's 
psalm, "Qual annilante." The last time she sang 
this duet w r as at Manchester, with her favourite, 
Clara Novello, when the audience could scarcely be 
restrained by the sacredness of the place in which 
it was performed, from an open demonstration of 
applause. 

After the conclusion of the three festivals this 
year, Malibran returned to Paris, and again met 
with a most flattering reception in the part of Des- 
demona. 

In September, 1831, the opera season again 
commenced in Paris. In the intermediate period 
Madame Malibran remained in seclusion. But in 
December we find her again upon the Parisian 
theatre, having succeeded Pasta. La Gazza La- 
dra was the opera selected for the occasion. 
Soon after this effort, she was compelled by 

VOL. II. 3 



26 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

indisposition to withdraw for some time from 
the stage. 

In the autumn, 1832, we find her concluding an 
engagement at the theatre at Bologna, where she 
was to perform for eighteen nights. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 27 



CHAPTER III. 

The Corrinne of Madame de Stael, the prototype of Malibran. 
Malibran in Rome. At Milan. English and Italians com- 
pared. Venice. Teatro Garcia. 

It is now six-and-thirty years since the world 
were favoured with the Corinne of De Slael. 
More near to our own time — nay, as it were but 
yesterday — we behold in Madame Malibran the 
Corinne of the past repeated in the present. The 
illustrious daughter of M. Necker knew not that 
the favourite creation of her genius was to be in 
reality personified. She knew not that the inspira- 
tions of her muse were to be, and at no far distant 
period, renewed, revived, and embodied. Corinne 
crowned at the Capitol was but a prelude to Mali- 
bran crowned with all the acclamations of Europe. 

But there are other points of resemblance. 



28 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

Corinne was celebrated for the charms of her 
voice, for her dramatic powers, for the wonderful 
capabilities of her genius, and, above all, for her 
simplicity of disposition, her generosity, and her 
benevolence. The Corinne to whom the senators 
of Rome awarded the crow T n of laurels, emblematic 
of the triumphs of genius developed in a woman, 
was but in part the offspring of that country so 
prolific in its mental productions. Born, neverthe- 
less, in that same fertile soil, having inhaled the 
fragrance of its air and its perfume, having par- 
taken of that sentiment which a climate peculiarly 
grateful and indulgent confers, she was almost in 
every respect an Italian. Madame Malibran was 
a daughter of a climate scarcely inferior, and from 
both parents inherited the enthusiasm which dis- 
tinguishes their more accomplished inhabitants. 

The comparison goes still farther; the Corinne 
of the Capitol, overwhelmed by her misfortunes, 
perished in the meridian of her charms : Madame 
Malibran expired in the 28th year of her age, after 
a youth fertile in mortifications and disasters. 

It was in the spring of 1832 that Malibran, the 
Corinne of our modern days, made her appearance 
in Rome. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 29 

This city, called eternal, is but the faded monu- 
ment of past successes, or rather but a solitary 
mourner over the peopled dead. The stupendous 
galleries of the Coliseum remain as emblems of 
the past, but their aspect is that of awful and fear- 
ful desolation. It is by our impressions only that 
we are able to judge of remnants so magnificent, 
and so tremendous in their proportions, yet fitted, 
like the Pyramids, to resist, for centuries to come, 
the withering hand of unsparing Time. 

Amidst this ruin, this desolation, a gentle voice is 
heard, an immortal spirit breathes, and the melody 
of song is felt to vibrate on the ear, and the song- 
stress is worthy of the glories of the past ! The re- 
citative, as delivered by Malibran, was admirably 
calculated to re-awaken the glorious conceptions 
of past ages, in a people much attached to their 
ancient name, and whose genius stoops only to the 
necessity of circumstances. The fame of Malibran 
corresponded but too w 7 ell with the illusions of the 
past ; and the Romans crowded around her, as one 
in every way dear to them, and worthy of their 
praises. The triumphs of applause, of an applause 
so connected with the sympathies of the Romans, had 
not, however, in any way spoiled the simplicity of 

3* 



30 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

her disposition, or in any way affected the goodness 
of her heart ; and it was in the midst of praises, 
honours, and caresses, that she gave a concert for 
the benefit of a family in a state of indigence, which 
was only one of innumerable instances of private 
benevolence which characterized her sojourn at 
Rome. 

We now turn to her celebrated debut in the 
character of Norma at Milan. " The excitement 
of her auditors," writes a friend, " was extraor- 
dinary; each time she quitted the stage, she was 
required to reappear, to receive fresh applause; 
and the authority of the police was necessarily 
resorted to to quell the tumult, which, however, 
only subsided on the interposition of the chief 
authorities of the city." 

It was here that a medal in honour of her excel- 
ling talents was struck by the sculptor Valerio 
Nesti, bearing her likeness, with the motto on the 
reverse, " Per universale consenso proclamata 
mirabile nelP ayvone e nelli canto." Thus the 
modern Corinne, reappearing once more amongst 
the lively and enthusiastic Milanese, reawakened all 
their admiration ; nay, more, fulfilled all their ex- 
pectations of delight. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 31 

The English possess more vigour of character 
than the inhabitants of the south ; which is in part 
the result of their physical constitution, unsubdued 
by the mild influences of a clime which seems that 
of a perpetual summer; but this same physical 
vigour acting for a time upon the more inward 
faculties of the mind becomes soon exhausted, and 
is at any time little fitted for the expression of en- 
thusiasm. But amidst the warm, the genial, the 
softening climates of the south, the case is diametri- 
cally opposite. Thus, while in England the ranks 
of the noblesse, with marble coldness, scarcely 
condescend to give the slightest token of applause, 
in Italy all participate in a general and equally felt 
enthusiasm. 

The feeling of love, admiration, and respect, with 
which Madame Malibran was received, was there- 
fore participated in by all ranks universally. 

It was here, also, that the Duke Visconti offered 
her 420,000 francs, (£17,500) for one hundred and 
eighty performances, distributed over five seasons, 
with apartments, carriage, table, &c. The enthu- 
siasm throughout the whole of Italy had risen to 
such a degree, that even these terms, liberal as they 
appear to us, were not considered to be over-much, 



32 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

coupled as they were with other advantages, such 
as a free benefit, &c. 

The principal cities and capitals of Europe were 
eager to have her among them. Their rivalry, 
which had the agreeable advantage of being with- 
out hate, was exerted as it were in unison ; for each 
party could understand, and at once enter into, the 
feelings of the other; but she had promised the 
Venitians ; and though the liberality of her disposi- 
tion might make the acquisition of money a matter 
of importance, she had never accustomed herself to 
the subterfuge of avoiding one engagement for the 
sake of another. 

Venice — a city like the ruins of more ancient 
Rome — Venice had petitioned for her presence — 
she too, another Rome, reduced to a state of indi- 
gence and melancholy: she too was, however, to 
be enlivened and delighted with the melody of the 
queen of song. That city, once the favoured, but 
now the deserted daughter of the sea — that city of 
the gondolier chanting his chorus from the verses 
of Tasso and of Dante, like the plaint that could 
still lament in tender accents over the decay of her 
grandeur — that city beautiful in its solitude, beheld 
in the subject of this memoir, a being eminently 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 33 

calculated to awaken its sympathies, and to revive 
the memory of her former power. Malibran and 
the Venitians were well met, for they, like the 
Milanese and the Neapolitans, give up their whole 
souls at once to the influence of their imaginations; 
and admiration in them is ever a sensation too im- 
portunate to be resisted. The instances of love and 
of respect which Madame Malibran received from 
all ranks at Venice are too numerous to repeat. 
Her public performances at Venice were completed 
in their finale by her repetition of Amina in La Son- 
nambula, and that for the purpose of a charitable 
action. This intermixture of the kindest virtues, 
with the astonishing talent displayed in the course 
of her impersonations, completed the enthusiasm of 
the Venitians. " She was," writes a friend, " visited 
by throngs, and the storm of applause lasted a full 
half hour ; a vast multitude afterwards followed her 
home, and surrounded her residence, where en- 
thusiasm arose almost to infatuation." 

This last and final performance in honour of the 
Venitian people occurred in the Teatro Emeran- 
nitio, whose proprietor had entreated her to sing at 
his theatre for one night, which she at once con- 
sented to do, on a stipulation that her performance 



34 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

might be for his own advantage. This theatre is 
now called Teatro Garcia, in honour equally of her 
goodness and of her talents. 

Such was the nature of her affecting farewell of 
the Venitians, whom she had intended again and 
again to revisit, but who, alas ! were destined to see 
her no more ! 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 35 



CHAPTER IV. 

Malibran's re-appearance at Naples. At Milan. Return to 
Paris. Italians and the French compared. Malibran again 
revisits Italy. Paris. London. Sonnambula at Drury 
Lane. Fidelio. Divorce. Marriage with De Beriot. The 
Maid of Artois. Madame de Beriot visits the continent for 
the last time. 

We now beheld Madame Malibran de Beriot in 
the zenith of her charms, in the meridian, in the 
splendour of her powers. We behold her as the 
prima donna of the far celebrated theatre, San Car- 
los, at Naples; the first in size and magnificence in 
Europe. The Italians have not forgotten, with 
their supposed political degradation, their enthu- 
siasm. Malibran needed only to appear to please. 
She affected the hearts of the Neapolitans; that 
lively people, so acute, and yet so warm in their 
impressions. She had become known; in a word, 



36 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

she had become their own. Amidst the torrent of 
acclamations with which she was continually re- 
ceived, this accomplished woman, when relieved 
from the fatigue attendant upon a public appear- 
ance, displayed in every action of her domestic 
life, a goodness, a sincerity, and' a generosity of 
disposition, that must endear her memory to pos- 
terity, as much as the more vivid and inspiring 
recollection of her dramatic performances. 

From Naples she progressed to Milan, where the 
same applause, the same enthusiasm, the same ex- 
pressions of devotion to her person, were repeated. 
The instances of admiration and respect w T hich she 
here received, as at Naples, are too numerous to 
repeat. Her Neapolitan friends* however, may 
remain assured that the sentiments they expressed 
were not obliterated by future successes from her 
heart ; the meed of praise was offered to an amiable 
as much as to a talented woman, and it was felt, 
remembered, and appreciated. Her fame had now 
spread over the kingdoms of Europe. 

The Italian people are jealous only with regard 
to the object of their private affections ; they are 
not jealous of fame, of talent, of glory, in another. 
The flattering testimonials contained in the papers 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 37 

of the day might be the result of favour from a 
party who felt interested in her success; but the 
fame of Malibran penetrated into remote provinces 
out of the reach, for the most part, of those flat* 
tering testimonials. It was through the influence 
of private letters, containing the unbiassed state- 
ments of individuals, that the fame of Malibran was 
so widely disseminated. Amidst the tumult of uni- 
versal and most deserved applause, it was with 
profound grief that the Milanese and Neapolitans 
saw her depart. 

The scene of her celebrity now again opens in 
Pari3, the ancient capital of Charlemagne, of Pepin, 
of the Capetian Kings, of Napoleon, the city of the 
Louvre, the emporium of fashion, and the brilliant 
focus of all modern society; — Paris, which occupies 
a place in the map of Europe, much more central 
than any of the cities contained within the circle of 
the Italian states, is consequently of easier access 
to the inhabitants of most European countries ; its 
political importance, its situation, and its numerous 
population, together with its boundless sources of 
public amusement, all combine to assemble great 
multitudes from every other nation in the world. 

Amidst this radii, the modern Corinne now once 

VOL. II. 4 



38 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

again appeared. The peformance chosen for her 
debut was Semiramide. The subsequent per- 
formances were the Barbiere di Seviglia, Otello, 
and the Romeo e Giulietta of Zingarelli. The 
sentiment of the Italians often engenders a deep- 
rooted and impassioned enthusiasm ; the vivacity of 
the French gives birth to expressions of enthusiasm, 
not less sincere for the time, and not less impas- 
sioned. Their volubility must have a vent. In 
lauding the talents of another, they fancy them- 
selves identified with the applauses contained in 
their own approbation. The Parisians, however, 
were, to our personal knowledge, perfectly sincere 
in their admiration of the brilliant talents of Ma- 
libran. 

Malibran now re-appeared at the celebrated 
theatre San Carlos, at Naples. She had, upon a 
former time, awakened all the enthusiasm of that 
lively people, and it suffered no diminution. Her 
powers, still reaching on towards further maturity, 
and the excellence of her private character, ever 
adorned as it was with innumerable instances of 
goodness and generosity, rendered indeed forget- 
fulness on their parts impossible. We need not 
here weary the reader with the repetition of new 



OF MADAME MALIBRA1V. 39 

triumphs; we shall rather state that Malibran's 
chief satisfaction at this time consisted in witnessing 
the progress of her accomplished sister, Mademoi- 
selle Garcia, who appeared with her in Pacini's 
opera of Irene. 

At this period in the career of Madame Mali- 
bran, the fame of her talents and the generosity of 
her conduct, in all matters of ordinary life, had 
exalted her so much in the eyes of Europe, that 
nations contested with one another for the honour 
of having her amongst them. It was her nature, 
however, not to become what is usually termed 
spoiled ; she displayed no affectations, no unworthy 
prejudices, no undue preferences of one set of peo- 
ple at the expense of another. Hence, in order to 
meet the desires of the different inhabitants of those 
countries whose capital cities lay remote and apart 
from each other, vast distances were to be over- 
come, and immense journeys were to be performed. 
But these various occasions for physical exertion 
were, perhaps, not unsuited to the vivacity of her 
temperament and the natural activity of her disposi- 
tion. She is therefore to be traced much in the 
same manner as a meteor which blazes across the 
heavens, shedding around the most brilliant irradia- 



40 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

tions ; and, as the beholders still continued to gaze, 
suddenly departing to appear within the circle of a 
new zenith, yet again re-appearing with renewed 
splendour, and with rays still more dazzlingly dif- 
fused. 

From this period, therefore, the Corinne of our 
times must be followed throughout her rapid and 
irregular course, after a manner that may corre- 
spond with the celerity and the rapidity of her 
movements. Nor shall we enumerate her various 
impersonations, nor repeat at large the expressions 
of enthusiasm every where displayed in her favour. 

From Naples, Madame Malibran proceeded to 
Paris, where, to descend to the language of mer- 
cenary computation, immense profits were added to 
those general expressions of applause at all times 
increasing. From Paris she proceeded to London, 
where, on the 13th of May, 1835, she undertook the 
English version of La Sonnambula, at the Covent 
Garden Theatre. 

This performance created a great " sensation" in 
the dramatic world, which extended to all classes, 
all ranks, all professions. * On her entrance,'' says 
a contemporary, "her reception was completely 
electrifying;" the whole audience rising en masse. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 41 

with deafening shouts and cheers, to encourage her 
in her new and arduous attempt. The manner in 
which she acquitted herself can never be forgotten 
by those who witnessed a performance, the com- 
plete success of which has induced so many untiring 
repetitions. Her performance was one in which it 
was difficult to say which was most admirable, the 
finished excellence of her vocalization, or the natural 
beauty of her acting. 

The impersonation of Fidelio succeeded to this 
chef d'aeuvre in the dramatic art, and her united and 
transcendent merits as an actress and as a singer 
placed her now on the very pinnacle of fame. 

During this brilliant season Malibran appeared 
also at numerous parties amongst the elite of the 
noblesse, the mere enumeration of whose names 
only could give the reader an idea of the general 
industry of her life, and of the multiplicity and im- 
portance of her various performances. 

In the autumn of the same year she was again at 
Naples; and again, in 1836, she appeared in Paris. 

It was in the spring of this year that her unfortu- 
nate union with Monsieur Malibran was dissolved 

in due form by the courts of Paris ; and in the 

4# 



42 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

month of March, in the same year, she married 
Monsieur de Beriot, to whom she had been long 
ardently attached, and by whom she had had seve- 
ral children. 

On this occasion the Queen of the French pre- 
sented her with a magnificent agraffe, richly adorned 
with pearls. There was wanting no better testimony 
of the respect in which she was universally held by 
the court of France. 

On the 2d of May following, Madame Malibran, 
of late more popularly known as Madame Malibran 
de Beriot, re-commenced her English performances 
at Drury Lane Theatre. On the 27th of the same 
month, she appeared in the new character of Iso- 
lina, in Balfe's opera of the Maid of Artois. Of 
this performance we shall only say that it is of too 
recent occurrence for any one to forget the united 
charms of melody, sweetness, and harmony, with 
which she enriched a composition of itself beautiful 
and pleasing. 

At the close of this season she proceeded to her 
chateau at Ixelles, near Brussels, where, after re- 
covering her fatigue, she progressed to various capi- 
tal cities* satisfying, like the prophets of old, the 
hitherto ignorant multitudes who till now had only 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 43 

heard, through means of distant rumour or report, 
of her resplendent abilities. 

It is seldom that expectation is gratified ; and a 
celebrated authoress has defined only two objects 
which are likely to surpass the comprehensions of a 
modern, and consequently an enlightened, imagina- 
tion ; namely, St. Peter's at Rome, and the ocean. 
All individual wonder was to be reckoned disap- 
pointed in whatever related to personal excellence. 
But Malibran was an exception even to this fas- 
tidious rule. The metaphysicians of Germany, 
equally with the musical dilettanti, expressed their 
satisfaction at her performances, in a manner that 
proved at once that they had not been disappointed. 
At Aix-la-Chapelle, such was the respect shown to 
her moral character in conjunction with her brilliant 
talent, that the military honours generally reserved 
for the salutation of royal personages w r ere upon 
this occasion accorded to her. 

Up to this period have we then traded the public 
career of Malibran, in reference to the scenic cha- 
racters of the drama. But a gulf yawns before 
us ! We approach the verge of the dread abyss of 
time and of eternity ! — for Malibran is about to 
return once more to England, and to appear for the 



44 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

last time ! She is about to perish in the zenith, in 
the perfection of her fame ; yet, though so young, 
her destiny was nevertheless accomplished ! 

We shall therefore go back to that portion of her 
history which relates to her oratorio performances ; 
for she excelled in the sublimities of sacred compo- 
sition as much as in the more varied science of the 
stage. 



OF MADAME MALIBRA1V. 45 



CHAPTER V. 

Oratorios. York festival. Malibran's great success. Opi- 
nions of the press. Spectator. Atlas. Athenaeum. 

We have run through the histrionic career of 
Malibran, and may now revert to a species of per- 
formance which developed the disposition of her 
mind much more distinctly than even her brilliant 
and faithful impersonations of the characters of the 
drama ; we allude to her inspired eloquence in the 
delivery of sacred music. 

The most brilliant talents, the most captivating 
graces, the most tuneful melody, were dignified, 
and indeed exalted, in Malibran by a deep sense 
of religious devotion ; since a religious belief, and 
a fixed undeviating principle of rectitude, formed 
her character, adorned the simplicity of her do- 
mestic avocations, and, indeed, accompanied her 



46 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

through all the varied scenes of her career. Unde- 
viating rectitude of conduct was perhaps to be ex- 
pected in a woman of superior understanding ; but 
when we find a person still in her youth so much 
praised, caressed, and flattered, seeking happiness 
and consolation in religious meditations, our admi- 
ration becomes lost in our respect. Her personal 
friends, and one perhaps beyond all others, can 
affirm to her piety ; and perhaps mutual sentiments, 
sympathies, and opinions, which had their founda- 
tion, not in the tumult of public applause, but in a 
sense of virtue, goodness, and true religion, consti- 
tuted the bond of a union extremely happy to both, 
and only broken by that which arrests all friendships, 
by dissolving life itself, though the hope may remain 
that again they shall be united. 

That Malibran, with a mind thus, as it were, 
sublimely imbued, should give an almost beatified 
expression to sacred music, will not appear so sur- 
prising, though it doubtless must have excited the 
astonishment of those who were acquainted with 
her only through the medium of the theatre. 

It was as early as the year 1825, and at the age 
of scarcely seventeen years, that Malibran as Ma- 
demoiselle Garcia, appeared at the York Festival. 



OF MADAME MALIBRA1V. 47 

She had indeed become a general favourite of the 
public in consequence of her successful debut the 
previous season at the King's Theatre. But oratorio 
singing is a trial far more difficult than that at the 
theatre ; the decorations, the dresses, nay, even the 
encouraging plaudits of the audience, being want- 
ing; and the utmost musical ability may fail if 
unsupported by a powerful as well as a religious 
conception of the nature, and, above all, of the in- 
tention of a sacred performance. These considera- 
tions, in fact, weighed so far with the best judges in 
such matters, as to inspire in them a doubt as to her 
success — at least in a comparative point of view 
with her other performances. 

These doubts and uncertainties, however, were 
quickly dissipated by her unequalled singing in the 
Messiah, and the ease with which she exchanged 
the compositions of Rossini and Mozart for those of 
Handel and Haydn. The execution of the air, 
" Rejoice greatly," created a very powerful sensa- 
tion. Her auditors were greatly struck with the 
" splendid power" and elevation of sentiment ex- 
pressed in her singing ; and again, in the Creation, 
she gave the air " On mighty Pens," with a degree 
of brilliancy, delicacy, and sweetness, which she 



48 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

alone, say our contemporaries, had been able to 
impart to that exquisite composition. 

We need not repeat the catalogue of her oratorio 
performances: to do so, indeed, would be but to 
multiply expressions of praise and admiration — 
praises which cannot increase the sense of delight 
in those who had the happiness to hear her, and 
which must at the same time, we fear, prove inade- 
quate for the information of posterity. We shall, 
however, here insert a few remarks gathered from 
a source in every way respectable, in order to show 
that it is not upon our own personal judgment that 
we have spoken, nor from that of her more intimate 
friends. The authorities whom we shall quote will 
speak for themselves ; and we can only add that 
their remarks are chosen for their brevity, not on 
account of the merit of their approbation, since the 
passages which we have omitted are equally ener- 
getic in the character of their applauses. 

" We have heard," says the critic of the Spec- 
tator, " singers in years gone by, of whose powers 
we cherish a vivid and grateful recollection, and we 
look around amongst those who are living for some 
of present excellence and greater promise ; but in 
Malibran were united all the powers and capa- 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 49 

bilities, all the gifts and graces, that were scattered 
among her predecessors and contemporaries. She 
had an innate perception of beauty and grace in 
every art ; we have discoursed with her about pic- 
tures and architecture, about the Latin classics, the 
poetry of Dante and Goethe, the drama of England, 
and found a mind not tinged, but impregnated with 
love of all that was great and enduring of every 
country and age." 

"Have we not all witnessed," says the Atlas, 
" expression in every form mirrored in her counte- 
nance ; how lofty in its indignation, how angelic in 
its tenderness ! Her voice at times appeared super- 
natural, the tones of a sibyl could not penetrate more 
deeply." 

" We have heard her," says a writer in the Athe- 
naeum, " in the same evening sing in five different 
languages, giving with equal truth and character 
the intense and passionate scene from Der Fries- 
chutz, and those sprightly and charming Provencal 
airs, many of which were composed by herself. 
The extensive compass of her voice enabled her to 
command the whole range of songs usually divided 
between the contralto and the soprano. She was, 
it is true, often hurried away by the tameless viva- 
city of her spirits into flights and cadences which 

VOL* II. 5 



50 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

were more eccentric than beautiful. We have 
heard her, in the very wantonness of consummate 
power, rival the unvocal Arpiggi of De Beriot's 
violin, and execute the most sudden shakes and divi- 
sions upon those highest and deepest notes of the 
voice, which less perfectly trained singers approach 
warily and with preparation. But those knew little 
of the dignity Malibran could assume, or of the 
unexaggerated expression which she could throw 
into music, even the plainest and least fantastic, 
who are not familiar with her oratorio performances, 
with the earnest pathos of the scena « Deh parlate,' 
Cimarosa's noblest song, with the calm and holy 
sweetness of the Pastorelle from the Messiah, ' He 
shall feed his flock;' or, in a strain loftier than these, 
with her delivery of that most magnificent of reci- 
tatives, 'Sing ye unto the Lord/ from Israel in 
Egypt. In this last she so completely identified her- 
self with the spirit of the scene, that no painter of 
Miriam the Prophetess ever dreamed of face, form, 
or attitude, more appropriate, more instinct with 
sublime triumph, than hers at that moment." 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN, 51 



CHAPTER VI. 

Private life of Madame Malibran. Her genius. Early 
perfect developement of her powers. Her perception of 
national character. Her Desdemona in Paris. Her 
accomplishments. Her freedom from professional envy and 
jealousy. 

Attired in the picturesque costume of the 
drama; walking in an atmosphere of lights, and 
amidst a scene of splendid decoration ; uttering the 
language of the poet, and warbling the notes of 
melody and song, Malibran de Beriot appears as an 
enchantress elevated beyond the attributes of human 
nature, and exempt, as it were, from its miseries and 
necessities. But let us visit her in her private cha- 
racter; let us observe her in the comparative 
solitude of domestic retirement; — let us quit the 
siren of the stage, and turn to observe the woman 
in all the simplicity of her nature, — and we shall 
find the cantatrice equally accomplished in the 



52 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

virtues, as she was in the talents, of her sex. The 
author has had, as much as any one, the opportu- 
nity of seeing her in the tranquillity of private life ; 
and while he confirms those anecdotes of her bene- 
volence, which her friends have already given to 
the public, he will also be able to add some equally 
authentic details connected with the goodness of her 
heart. 

The genius of Malibran may indeed fill every re- 
flecting mind with astonishment, since she seems to 
have anticipated time, and to have arrived at*a de- 
gree of eminence to which few even of the most 
talented ever attain. We have proofs of the tran- 
scendent abilities of a De Stael, of a Genlis, of Ma- 
dame Cottin, of our own Miss Edgeworth, and 
many others; but all these had the advantage of 
time in perfecting their intellectual acquirements. 
Had they been arrested in their career at the early 
age of twenty-eight years, they would probably 
have left, comparatively speaking, but few marks of 
their ability. Even the talent of Shakspeare him- 
self was probably not developed at so early an 
age; and the moral drawn from his immortal 
comedies and tragedies might have slumbered 
equally with the passions so skilfully portrayed, had 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 53 

accident so prematurely deprived the world of his 
genius. 

The talent of Malibran had arrived at wonderful 
perfection; nor was it merely confined to the de- 
velopement of her professional abilities. She pene- 
trated, at a glance, the genius of the nations amongst 
whom she happened occasionally to reside ; — nay, 
more, she could adapt herself to their habitual tastes. 
Her performance of Desdemona in the opera of 
Otello, in the French capital, is one instance out of 
many. She knew the love of effect in a French 
audience, and, in order to gratify them, altered her 
acting. In the finale, Desdemona is generally 
smothered by the Moor ; but Malibran endeavoured 
in her terror to escape. Expectation was thus pro- 
longed ; and to fulfil the horror of the scene, she 
caused the incensed Othello to draw her towards 
the front of the stage, and there complete his ven- 
geance. 

Malibran was very fond of riding, and was a 
graceful though not a perfect horsewoman. She 
had a natural talent for drawing. In public, she 
was serious, distant, and respectful ; in private she 
was gay and childish. She was charitable, liberal, 
sincere, warm in her affections, of a most forgiving 

5* 



54 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

temper, of exquisite sensibility, unassuming to hu- 
mility, mild and simple in worldly affairs as a child. 
She was ever desirous of casting the mantle of love 
over the failings of others ; and while her kindness 
was thus extensively manifested to all with whom 
she had any intercourse, her gratitude to others, 
who showed marks of love to her, \Vas unbounded. 
When her kind friends sent her any thing that they 
thought would be acceptable, it was her study to 
think how she could return an equal token of affec- 
tion. Her manners were marked w r ith the simpli- 
city which generally characterizes exalted minds ; 
and though she could not be unconscious of the high 
estimation in which she was held, she was yet un- 
tainted with either vanity or pride. Her friendship 
in weal and wo was fervent, disinterested, and sincere. 
That her habits were those of perfect temperance, 
is to be ascertained from the spontaneous testimony 
of all those who were constantly in her company ; 
that she felt no hatred, envy, or jealousy, towards 
her contemporaries, is to be gathered from her will- 
ingness at all times to unite with all, and assist those 
less talented That she should have ever been termed 
avaricious, is sufficient to disprove all the rest, since 
we know that she was impelled, by the unequalled 
generosity of her temper, to perform the kindest and 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 55 

most liberal actions. As ostentation formed no part 
of her character, her deeds of charity were not 
blazoned forth to the world. 

She had a vivacity of fancy, and a strength of 
intellect, in which few were her superiors. No 
person could render common incidents more enter- 
taining by the happy art she possessed of relating 
them : her invention was so fertile, her ideas were 
so original, and the points of humour so ingeniously 
and unexpectedly taken up in the progress of her 
narrative, that she never failed to accomplish all the 
purposes which the gayety of her imagination led 
her to attempt. 

We have observed her in different points of view : 
we have seen her exalted on the dangerous pinnacle 
of worldly prosperity, surrounded by fawning and 
flattering friends, and an admiring world. We have 
seen her marked out by prejudice as an object of 
dislike. We have seen her bowed down by bodily 
pain and weakness ; but never did we see her forget 
the urbanity of her sex, her conscious dignity as a 
rational creature, or a fervent aspiration after the 
highest degree of attainable perfection. We have 
seen her on the bed of sickness, enduring pain with 
the patience of a Christian, with the firm belief that 
the afflictions of this life are but for a moment ! 



56 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 



CHAPTER VII. 

Malibran courted by the English aristocracy. The Duchess 
of St. Albans. Fete at Holly Lodge. The Duchess's 
presents to Malibran at her last benefit. 

That Malibran was equally esteemed and be- 
loved in the more select circles of private life, it 
would be a'most superfluous to mention. Neverthe- 
less, as it happens that English society differs in no 
small degree from Constantinople in manners — in as 
far as the English are seldom or ever hurried away 
by what may be rather coarsely termed the intoxi- 
cation of excitement, and consequently remain aloof 
and distinct from any thing that, however excellent 
in itself, may approach to the professional — it is no 
small honour to the memory of Malibran that we 
are able to recollect her taking her place amongst 
the daughters of the richest aristocracy in the world, 



OF MADAME MAL1BRAN. 57 

and becoming the friend of many known for their 
domestic virtues, talents, and accomplishments. 

Malibran was also happy in the friendship of the 
Duchess of St. Albans. This lady, from the ampli- 
tude of her fortune, as much as from the dignity of 
her rank, had it at all times in her power to dis- 
tinguish the daughters of genius, of which she was 
herself, in her earlier years, a very pleasing example. 
It is too often a consequence of prosperity, that the 
favoured constellation shines coldly on less fortunate 
stars ; and, as a philosopher has still more sharply 
remarked, " it is the ill consequence of prosperity 
never to look behind it." But the Duchess of St. 
Albans was ever the friend and the benefactress of 
merit ; nay more, the hospitable and beneficent 
hostess to those whose reputation and accomplish- 
ments rendered them worthy of her personal ac- 
quaintance. 

The Duchess's fete at Holly Lodge, on the 11th 
of July, 1835, remarkable for its taste and magni- 
ficence, is no less so also for the presence of Mali- 
bran. It commenced with a concert performed in 
the open air ; a novelty not exactly adapted to the 
capricious nature of our English climate, but per- 
haps the more to be prized whenever it can be 



58 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

accomplished. Malibran, Grisi, Rubini, Ivanoff, 
and Lablache, took the lead in this mid-day chorus. 
This brilliant performance was succeeded by an 
exhibition of morris-dancers attired & la pastorale, 
and in the midst of modern dresses, altered fashions, 
and the march of intellect, (amongst the visiters,) 
the company were regaled with the refreshing 
spectacle of an animated measure tripped in the 
manner of the " olden time." A dejeuner dinatoire 
followed. 

Novelty might now be thought to have done its 
duty ; but the concert, dance, and banquet was but 
the prelude to further festivities. The Duke of St. 
Albans, attired in the costume of his office as 
Grand Falconer of England, presently led the way, 
with a sylvan train of foresters and falcons, to a 
grassy spot, where the amusement of hawking com- 
menced. . This sport was succeeded by a concert 
of national music. 

Malibran, as we have already stated, had per- 
formed in the previous concert, which was Italian. 
She, however, again volunteered her services ; and 
perhaps never acquitted herself better than she did 
in the duet " Vive le Roi" with Braham. The 
entertainment afterwards concluded with a ball. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAtf. 59 

Malibran's dancing kept pace with her other ac- 
quirements ; and carried away, as it were, with the 
spirit of the scene, she persuaded Lablache to ac- 
company her in a waltz. Hers was indeed the 
poetry of motion. She then, led off the then first- 
danced and rather difficult Russian mazurka. 

Nothing could exceed the regard felt by Madame 
Malibran towards the Duchess of St. Albans ; a 
feeling which was equally reciprocated on the oc- 
casion of her last benefit and appearance in London, 
the 16th of July, 1836. The Duchess, after the 
performance, visited her in her dressing-room, and 
presented her with a flagon, and, by way of souve- 
nir, her embroidered handkerchief. Little did the 
noble giver think that these very cadeaux should, in 
the space of two short months, be employed to 
raise her drooping spirits, and wipe the tear of 
agony from her dying eyes ! 



60 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Anecdotes. The Americans. Malibran and the shepherds. 
" Molly put the kettle on." Presentiment of early death. 
Presentiment of evil. An accident. 

Much vivacity of temper is very frequently 
united to great sensibility of temperament. The 
fortunes of Malibran were various, and in many 
respects tragic; but the natural bias of her disposi- 
tion was at once playful and cheerful, consequently 
her manners frequently possessed a degree of joy- 
ousness that approached to the comic. But those 
points which tell best in the manners and conversa- 
tion of the witty, fall dull and languid from the pen 
of the biographer. 

With all her sincere and deep-felt respect for the 
Americans, she could not help occasionally indulg- 



OF MADAME MALIBRAIV. 61 

ing in raillery at their pet phrases. She " calcu- 
lated" on returning to them, and with improved 
fortunes, and a more happy condition of her mar- 
ried life, to show them to what height of impor- 
tance she had arrived. " I guess y " she was wont to 
say, "how pretty considerably surprised and de- 
lighted they will be to see me again, half a woman 
and half a nightingale. And as they calculate upon 
me, I think I may safely reckon upon them. O 
yes!" 

An excusable, or rather an amiable degree of 
vanity was mixed with her more serious determi- 
nation to return to that country. She was now no 
longer the afflicted wife of a bankrupt, but happily 
married, and possessed of an independent fortune. 
In America she had suffered her greatest misfor- 
tunes ; and it is surely no small proof of her serious 
love for that country and its people that she should 
so very much have desired to revisit them. In fact, 
she made this favourite intention of hers a frequent 
subject of conversation. 

Exercise on horseback was to her both a relief 
and a relaxation, and it was one, moreover, in 
which she excelled. In one of her excursions in 
the neighbourhood of London, in one of those se- 

VOL. II. 6 



62 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

questered lanes which have escaped the building 
mania, she began humming an air which her com- 
panions happened to praise ; and as there chanced 
to be no audience but her own party, she gave the 
words of the air as she sang it. It was the finale 
to the Maid of Artois. The solitude was, however, 
speedily dispersed by the arrival of two drovers 
with a flock of sheep. Instead of rushing through 
the equestrians, these men stopped, listened, and 
seemed lost in admiration. This profound, and at 
the same time perfectly unpremeditated deference to 
her power of song in the open day, and from per- 
sons whose minds were necessarily occupied with 
matters that had but small reference to the empire 
of the Muses, was a compliment which Malibran, 
with her usual quickness, was not slow in appre- 
ciating. Here was no orchestra — no scenic repre- 
sentation — no previous enthusiasm — no glitter to 
excite the feelings — and no enchantment but the 
chance-sung notes, as it were, of a simple individual, 
She felt the compliment in every respect to be, as 
it certainly was, so totally unpremeditated and 
heartfelt, that she at once declared she felt as much 
pleased, if not even more so, than upon those gran^ 
theatrical occasions, when, after a triumphant finale, 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN - . 63 

amidst the blaze of lights, dresses, and a brilliant 
company, the whole audience had risen to add im- 
portance to their plaudits. She continued, and 
finished the air, which, like the pipe pf ancient Pan, 
had fascinated the rustic shepherds of the king's 
highway. Increasing the power of her voice in 
proportion to the distance that gradually intervened 
between the parties, she finished in the style of her 
very best public performances. The scene was 
peculiarly effective. 

One evening she felt rather annoyed at the 
general prejudice expressed by the company then 
present against all English vocal composition, the 
opinion being altogether in favour of foreign music; 
some even going so far as to assert that nothing 
could be good the air of which was entirely and 
originally of English extraction. Malibran in vain 
endeavoured to maintain that all countries possess, 
though perhaps in a less equal degree, many ancient 
melodies peculiarly their own ; that nothing could 
exceed the beauty of the Scottish, Irish, Welsh, 
and even some of the old English airs. She then 
named many compositions of our best modern com- 
posers, Bishop, Barnett, Lee, Horn, &c, declaring 
her belief that if she were to produce one of Bishop 



64 MEMOIRS AJVD LETTERS 

or Horn's ballads as the works of a Signor Vescovo, 
or Cuerno, thus Italianizing and Espagnolizing their 
names, they would fair e furore. 

In the midst of this discussion she volunteered a 
new Spanish song, composed, as she said, by a Don 
Chocarreria. She commenced — the greatest atten- 
tion prevailed ; she touched the notes lightly, intro- 
ducing variations on repeating the symphony, and 
with a serious feeling, though a slight smile might 
be traced on her lips, began : 

" Maria trayga un caldero 
De aqua, Llama levante 
Maria pon tu caldero 
Ayamos nuestro te." 

She finished — the plaudits resounded, and the air 
was quoted as a further example how far superior 
foreign talent was to English. 

Malibran assented to the justness of their re- 
marks, and agreed to yield still more to their argu- 
ment if the same air sung adagio should be found 
equally beautiful when played presto. The parties 
were agreed ; when, to the positive consternation of 
all present, and very much to the diversion of Mali- 
bran herself, the Spanish melody which she had so 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 65 

divinely sung, was, on being played quick, instantly 
recognised as a popular English nursery song, by 
no means of the highest class. Shall we shock our 
readers when we remind them that 

" Maria trayga un caldero," 

means literally " Molly, put the kettle on." 

This was the Spanish air ! the composer's name 
being Chocarreria, a most appropriate one for the 
jest. 

Whatever may be said regarding the existence 
of mental presentiment, whether viewed in the light 
of an accidental coincidence, or considered as the 
result of a temperament prone to superstition and 
foi'eboding, it is true that certain previous ideas of a 
fatal character have often been but too correctly 
fulfilled. A feeling of this nature so entirely oc- 
cupied the mind of Henry the Great of France, 
that on the morning of his assassination he felt 
equally oppressed and confused. This is an in- 
stance out of many incidental to the history of 
every country, and if we consult the memoirs of 
private life, we shall find instances innumerable. 
Strange and startling as it may appear, Malibran, 

6* 



66 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

the ill-fated darling of the Muses, while yet in the 
possession of health, youth, and strength, was 
warned of coming death. This sad foreboding of 
a too early fate she imparted to her confidential 
friends. Alas ! how truly, how sadly, was it veri- 
fied ! 

The following is another instance of her re- 
markable presentiment of coming events. In the 
month of July she was affected with an indisposi- 
tion of a nature so very slight, however, that two 
days afterwards she took her accustomed exercise 
on horseback. Her mind at the time was impressed 
with a feeling that something fatal was about to 
happen to her. Under this idea it was remarkable 
that she insisted upon riding out the morning of the 
accident, though strongly advised against it by her 
friends. Her whole conversation turned upon a 
melancholy presentiment which she entertained, that 
she was not long for this world. On being rallied 
for this, she w 7 ith her usual gayety said, " she would 
gallop it off" On setting off at a canter, the horse, 
one she had ridden the whole season, suddenly 
broke from his paces, and she lost all control. 
Bounding round the inner circle of the Regent's 
Park, the excited animal was stopped by a stranger. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 67 

Unprepared for the sudden check, Malibran was 
precipitated with violence against the paling. With 
that energy of character so natural to her disposi- 
tion, she could not be prevented by the entreaties of 
her friends from performing two characters on that 
evening ! 



68 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 



CHAPTER IX. 

Malibran's versatility. Quality of her voice and its manage- 
ment. Tours deforce. 

The range of Malibran's abilities was greater 
than that of any singer who preceded her. The 
characters in which she appeared comprised the 
highest walks of operatic tragedy, the most delicate 
and refined of domestic comedy. 

She has trod the stage as the proud and vengeful 
Semiramide, the gentle and betrayed Desdemona, 
the impassioned Romeo, the chivalrous Tancredi, 
the dependent yet sensitive Ninetta, the withered 
prude Fidalma, the romantic Amina, the heroic 
Felicia, the constant Isolina, the devoted Fidelio ; 
while in the orchestra she was equally successful in 
the majesty of Hande), and the naivete of a French 
romance. Language was no bar to her. She sur- 



OF MADAME MALlBRAiV. 69 

mounted vernacular difficulties with the same ease 
that she moulded her voice to varied expressions. 

She entered into the peculiarities of national cha- 
racter with an equally happy felicity, and was the 
finest possible illustration of the admitted axiom, 
that genius is of no country. Both as a singer and 
an actress, she was distinguished by versatility of 
power and liveliness of conception ; she could play 
with music of every possible style, school, or cen- 
tury. 

A remarkable combination of fine qualities con- 
centered to render Madame de Beriot the wonder 
she was to all who beheld her. She appeared to 
have an instinctive perception of the graceful, the 
beautiful, and the true in nature. She saw at once 
what was to be done, and she obeyed the impulse 
of her feelings. Hence the unpremeditated exhi- 
bition of some of her finest actions and attitudes. 
She also possessed an energy of character that 
kept those about her, and who watched her pro- 
gress, in constant admiration; and, added to her 
genius and energy, she had acquired a spirit of in- 
dustry that would put to shame the most mecha- 
nical plodder. 

Her voice, which was a contralto in character, 



70 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

took a range that was perfectly astonishing. We 
have heard her descend to F and E flat below the 
lower C in the treble clef, and reach C and D in 
alt. In execution she kept the listener in a state of 
wonderment; and in the most complicated fioritures 
she not only performed all that the flexible me- 
chanicians could achieve, but even there she beat 
them in their own stronghold, for she was sure to 
add some exquisite grace entirely her own ; and 
| we venture to say that no mortal ever heard her 
sing the same piece precisely alike, or exactly re- 
peat a cadence, when she has been encored. 

What is remarkable too, and at once displays 
her great genius, her cadences and adornments 
were always in keeping with the character and 
style of the composition she was singing. And as 
to her tours de force, many years will probably 
elapse before we hear her equal in that one branch 
of vocal art. Her principal characteristic, how- 
ever, was expression; and expression in all its 
features, shades, and varieties, from its loftiest epic 
flights, embracing the sublime of anger and the 
profoundly pathetic, down to the winning and play- 
ful. It is needless to recur to her expression in the 
most prominent parts of the Sonnambula and the 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 71 

Fidelio. But they who remember her in the 
Romeo, how piercing her tones of anguish ! how 
intense the agony of her features ! or her look, 
attitude, and tones in the last scene of Gli Orazzii e 
Curiazzi, will store the reminiscence of them 
among the treasures of high art. 

She prided herself on her professional industry, 
and it was no trifling indisposition that could make 
her relax one day from her duty. But her health 
was suffering, not only by the toils of her vocation, 
but oftentimes by " the grief that passeth speaking." 
Few thought 

" When the strain was sung, 
Till a thousand hearts were stirr'd, 
What lifedrops, from the minstrel wrung, 
Have gush'd at every word." 



72 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 



ff 



CHAPTER X. 

Manchester Festival. Illness of Madame Malibran. Death. 

We now approach that fatal point in her earthly 
pilgrimage, for which the Manchester Festival must 
ever be remembered. " So young, and her destiny 
so soon accomplished I" But in that destiny itself 
there are features which must strike the beholders 
with wonder as well as terror. Happy those, whose 
fortunes enable them to retain all the elegancies of 
life — whose means enable them to study the arts 
and sciences as a pastime, to quit or resume them 
at their pleasure ; or who, according as fancy pre- 
vails, may content themselves with sitting in critical 
judgment on the efforts of those who must please, 
or shrink back into the arms of poverty and insig- 
nificance ! 

Passing over the trials of her girlhood, and of 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 73 

her first unhappy marriage, we behold her gradu- 
ally, yet speedily, ascending that high eminence 
of which the poet says, 

" Ah, who can tell how hard it is to climb 1" 

until, leaving all her competitors behind, she attained 
the highest pinnacle of fame. Behold her trium- 
phant in the capital of France ! the pride of her 
profession, and idol of all hearts! every one her 
friend, and riches pouring in upon her in the midst 
of those applauses she so highly merited ! Accom- 
pany her into Italy ! The ancient spirit of the 
Romans is roused by her voice ; the Neapolitans, 
Milanese, and Venitians, look upon her as a seraph 
descended from their beautiful and tranquil skies; 
and all is harmony, love, devotion, and affection! 
She revisits England, and an enthusiasm, though 
less livelily expressed, not the less sincerely felt, 
awaits her steps. The audience of one of the 
finest theatres in the world, passing by the custom 
of their former proprieties, rise en masse on her 
appearance. She is the idol of what is termed 
fashionable life, the friend of the most accomplished 
of her sex. The triumphs of success promise, if 
possible, a still more brilliant future ; for as yet she 

VOL. II. 7 



74 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

is only twenty-seven years of age. A long career 
of honour is before her. 

But in the midst of her high achievements — at 
the very moment of her most successful triumph — 
death springs up suddenly beside her, and strikes 
her to the tomb ! 

On her arrival at Manchester, on Sunday, the 
11th of September, she was seized with shivering, 
headache, and other symptoms of indisposition. On 
the following days her illness increased : and in the 
mean time the oratorio performances began. On 
the evening previous to her first morning perfor- 
mance, she sang no fewer than fourteen pieces 
among her friends at the hotel, and, although 
warned against over-exerting herself, she persisted. 
Lablache said of her too truly, " Son esprit est 
trop fort pour son petit corps." On the Tuesday, 
although suffering, she sang both in the morning 
and evening. 

On the Wednesday her indisposition was still 
more evident, yet she went on, and her delivery of 
the last solo in the " Israel in Egypt," " Sing ye to 
the Lord," never can be forgotten by those who 
heard it. On the evening of Wednesday, she bore 
up with her lioness heart against the struggles of 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 75 

nature. The last notes she uttered in this world 

I 9 

were in the duet from Andronico, " Fanne se alber- 
ghi in petto," which she sang with Madame Cara- 
dori. It was encored, and the effect was tremen- 
dous. The shake she made at the top of her voice, 
at the close of the duet, was perfect. Amid the 
tumult of an audience transported with wonder and 
delight, she was led off exhausted. She had made 
an enormous effort, and achieved a triumph over 
her sinking frame. She had excited herself to an 
almost supernatural energy, lest it should be said 
that her illness was feigned. 

A correspondent of the Morning Post says, "Her 
agonizing cries that night will not be erased from 
the memory of the writer, who was within a short 
distance of the room in which she expired. She 
constantly ejaculated, \fetouffe,fetouffe.'" This is 
indeed most affecting. 

From this time she continued to grow worse, and 
at twenty minutes before twelve o'clock on the night 
of Friday, the 23d of September, the much gifted, 
much beloved Malibran expired. 

The demise of Malibran, in the full meridian of 
her splendid career, cast a gloom over all ranks 
and parties ; and selfish or unthinking indeed must 



76 MEMOIRS, ETC. 

have been that heart that did not mourn over the 
premature extinction of the queen of song ! Her 
death has created a void in the worlds of music 
and the stage, that may never again be filled ; and 
to have seen Malibran in even any one of her va- 
rious triumphs, will be, among her contemporaries, 
an event ever to be remembered and cherished with 
pride and with rapture. 

The death of this unhappy lady was attended 
with circumstances of a peculiarly painful nature — 
on which, however, we must drop the curtain ; re- 
marking on'y, that among her innumerable friends 
and admirers, it is to be lamented that no one could 
have been found of sufficient energy of purpose to 
have insisted, in her state of health, upon her aban- 
doning her intention of attending the Manchester 
Festival. For the rest — 

" No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear. 
Pleased thy pale ghost, or graced thy mournful bier. 
By foreign hand thy dying eyes were closed, 
By foreign hand thy decent limbs composed, 
By foreign hand thy humble grave adorned, 
By strangers honoured, and by strangers mourned !" 



"LAST SCENE OF ALL." 



DEATH AND FUNERAL. 



Off the afternoon of Sunday, the 11th of Sep- 
tember, 1836, Madame Malibran de Beriot and her 
husband arrived at Manchester, to fulfil their en- 
gagement at the festival, and stopped, in the first in- 
stance, at the Royal Hotel ; but upon learning that 
Lablache, Ivanoff, Assandri, and Caradori Allan 
were at the Mosley Arms, they removed there the 
same afternoon. They were shown a double-bedded 
room on the first floor, which Madame Malibran 
said would do very well, and they agreed to share a 
sitting-room with Signor Lablache and Mademoi- 
selle Assandri. The bed-room was No. 9, and on 
Mrs. Richardson, the landlady of the Mosley Arms, 
showing them to it, Madame Malibran observed that 
she had been in the Mosley Arms Hotel before, but 
in its former situation. Mrs. Richardson said that it 



80 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

was twelve years ago, and Madame Malibran im- 
mediately rejoined, " My bed-room w r as No. 9 there, 
and now I shall have No. 9 here ; is it not singular?" 
They were attended by only one male domestic, 
a foreigner, who had not bee i long in their service. 
No female attendant came with Madame Malibran, 
but she was desirous to engage one here. On her 
arrival at the Mosley Arms she appeared to be in 
tolerably good health and spirits, though she com- 
plained to a gentleman, a member of the festival 
committee, who called upon her that afternoon, of 
shivering and headache. 

On Monday morning she took at breakfast her 
usual diet of a few oysters and some porter diluted 
with water, which she had always found to be the 
best strengthening preparation for her great vocal 
exertions. She did not attend the general rehearsal 
of the performers, vocal and instrumental, which 
took place at the church on the Monday ; but there 
was no reason to suppose that at that time she suffered 
much, if at all, from indisposition. Again, on Tues- 
day morning, previously to going to the first oratorio, 
she took some oysters and a small quantity of porter 
and water mixed. On Tuesday evening, before 
going to the concert, she complained of a sensation 



OF MADAME MALIBRAtf. 81 

of sickness, and again on Wednesday morning, be- 
fore she rose, she said she did not feel well ; but she 
nevertheless persisted in going. On that morning 
she tried again to take her usual meal of oysters and 
diluted porter, but she was sick, and cotild not finish 
her breakfast. Mrs. Richardson told her that she 
thought that the porter did not agree with her, and 
Madame Malibran replied, "What can I do? I 
must take something for my voice, and I find this 
the best thing I can take." However, she did not 
take any more, either at that time or subsequently. 
At the church, that morning, many persons who had 
repeatedly heard her before, were of opinion that 
she was not in good health. In the evening she was 
no better; indeed her weakly sensations had in- 
creased, w 7 hen she went to that concert which was 
to prove the premature and melancholy conclusion 
of her brilliant but short career. She took a part in 
Beethoven's canon (from Fidelio) for four voices — 

" What joy doth fill my breast !" 

This piece, which was short, and was not encored, 
was the only one in which she sung before that 
which will henceforth be always associated with the 
melancholy reminiscences attaching to her name — 
the duet between Andronico and Irene, " l^anne se Y. 



82 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

alberghi in petto," in Mercadante's opera of Andro- 
nico. The latter part was sung a second time, and 
almost immediately after its conclusion, Dr. Bardsley, 
who was seated in the pit, was summoned to attend 
Malibran, who had fainted. Shortly afterwards, one 
of the stewards announced to the audience that she 
had become so ill, that Dr. Bardsley had thought it 
necessary to bleed her in the arm, and that he did 
not think it would be safe for her to sing again that 
evening. 

One little circumstance occurred about this time 
which is strikingly characteristic of the energy, the 
almost jierte, of the manner which Malibran some- 
times displayed. Immediately after she was bled, 
some bystander observed in her hearing, that she 
would be better shortly, and able to resume her 
duties that evening. Turning to the speaker, with 
a fire in her eye that few would have expected to 
have seen in a female faint from exertion, excitement, 
and loss of blood, she exclaimed, — " What ! do you 
think I am like your English fighters, that I can lose 
blood and go to work again directly V 9 As soon as 
possible she was conveyed to the Mosley Arms Hotel, 
and to her bed, where she received every attention 
from her kind-hearted landlady. 

On Thursday morning, when Mrs. Richardson 



OF MADAME MALIBRAX. 83 

went to sec her, she complained of a violent pain in 
her head, and requested her to touch her temples, 
and feel their throbbing. She added, I have been 
trying my voice in bed, and it is as strong and clear, 
and I have as much power, as though I were in per- 
fect health ; but every note seems to vibrate through 
my brain." She was subsequently very sick, and 
Mrs. Richardson persuaded her to take a cup of 
coffee, w T hich, however, her stomach immediately 
rejected. Mrs. Richardson told her she w 7 as not fit 
to leave her bed, and besought her not to think of 
doing so that day; but she replied, "In the voice 
that I am, the public w 7 ill not believe that I am ill ; 
therefore I will make the attempt." She got up, but 
was not able to dress herself, and was assisted by 
Mrs. Richardson. While dressing her hair, of which 
she had a profusion, she exclaimed to her husband, 
" dear ! this hair : why should I not get rid of it? 
I can wear a cap ; and I am sure I should feel a 
great deal better if this hair was taken from my 
head." When dressed, M. de Beriot led her into 
the sitting-room, and there she had another very 
violent attack of sickness and vomiting, while the 
borough-reeve's carriage was at the door of the hotel, 
waiting to convey her to the church. 



84 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

It may give some idea of her condition at that 
time, to mention, that in the expectation of her again 
suffering from this cause in the carriage, sheets and 
towels were placed in it ; and she was so debilitated 
from the effect of so much sickness, that she was 
supported, almost carried, from her sitting-room to 
the carriage, into which she crept on her hands and 
knees. She complained of pains in her head, chest, 
and stomach ; but, as we have stated, she deter- 
mined to go to the church, notwithstanding her own 
belief that it was a dangerous step, and that she was 
not physically equal to the exertion which the parts 
assigned her in the performances would have re- 
quired. She went — and, shortly afterwards, experi- 
encing a violent attack of hysteria, was immediately 
conveyed back to the carriage, and, accompanied 
by Dr. Bardsley, and Mr. Worthington, was taken 
to the hotel, and placed on a sofa in a private sitting- 
room, where she rested a while, and said, " I feel 
myself more comfortable here ;" but she still com- 
plained of the pain in her head, w 7 hich w T as much in- 
creased by the violent retchings and sickness that 
continued during the remainder of the day to dis- 
tress and weaken her. Dr. Bardsley and Mr. Wor- 
thington continued in attendance upon her, and at 



OF MADAxME MAL1BRAN. 85 

half-past twelve o'clock that day they issued a medi- 
cal certificate to the effect, that in their opinion she 
could not with safety appear at the oratorio that 
morning, or at the concert that evening. 

On Friday morning Dr. Hull was called in, and 
after a consultation, it was made known to the com- 
mittee by him and Dr. Bardsiey, that Madame Mali- 
bran de Beriot was worse, and that she would not be 
able to sing that morning. On Sunday evening, the 
18th, Dr. Belluomini arrived from the Quadrant, 
Regent Street, having been sent for by M. de Beriot, 
who had become very anxious on the score of his 
wife's continued ill health. Dr. Belluomini, besides 
being thoroughly acquainted with the constitution 
of his patient, from having been her physician for 
years, had known her from childhood, and had for 
some time also been on terms of friendship with her 
husband and herself. On his arrival he found her 
in bed, and she appeared much delighted to see 
him. On that evening she seemed more composed, 
and slept a little during the night, which she had 
not done during the two preceding ones. She was 
still so weak that it was deemed not desirable to 
remove her from her bed even for a moment, till 
Tuesday morning, the 20th, when she was placed 

VOL. II. 8 



86 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

in a chair for a few moments till her bed was made; 
but she appeared much exhausted by the effort, and 
during a great part of the afternoon remained silent 
and motionless. During the evening she was some- 
what better, both her cough and fever having in 
some degree abated ; and M. de Beriot wrote to this 
effect to Signor Lablache at Norwich. 

Next morning, however, she again grew worse. 
De Beriot became very much dejected, and appeared 
then to dread the fatal result which subsequently 
took place; for w 7 hen exhorted to keep up his spirits, 
and at all events to conceal his distress from his 
wife, as it would tend to retard her recovery, and 
with care she might get better, he said, " O no ; she 
never will get better; it's impossible !" On Thurs- 
day afternoon, the 22d, he wished to have some 
surgeon called in, and Dr. Belluomini agreeing w T ith 
him that some accoucheur should be sent for, Mr, 
William Lewis, of George Street, on the suggestion 
of Mrs. Richardson, who had previously mentioned 
the names of several eminent practitioners, was 
called in about seven o'clock in the evening. He 
immediately ordered all her hair to be cut off, and 
this having been done by M. de Beriot himself, 
vinegar was applied to her head and temples, hot 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 87 

fomentations to her stomach, and hot water to her 
feet, and every means resorted to that could be 
thought of to induce a favourable turn to the dis- 
order, through a reaction in the system. Dr. Bel- 
luomini asked Mr. Lewis whether in his judgment 
Madame Malibran's state of pregnancy materially 
affected her in relation to the disorder. Mr. Lewis 
expressed a decided opinion that it did not, as she 
was in an early stage of pregnancy. His impres- 
sion on first seeing her, from the state of her pulse 
and insensibility, was, that she was fast sinking 
under the malady, and could not recover. In point 
of fact, she never rallied for an instant, except to 
take a little barley water from the hand of her hus- 
band, and she expired at precisely twenty minutes 
before twelve o'clock on Friday night, the 23d of 
September, after an illness, dating its commence- 
ment from the Wednesday night, of nine days. 

M. de Beriot had shortly before been prevailed 
upon to retire from the chamber where he had, 
with the most assiduous and affectionate solicitude, 
watched by the bedside of the patient, taking no 
rest and refusing food. The painful intelligence 
was no sooner communicated to him by Mrs. 
Richardson, in the most delicate way possible, than 



88 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

he fainted and fell upon the floor with considerable 
force. He was in a very painful state of distraction 
for some time after his restoration to sensibility ; 
and, whether in compliance with the entreaties of 
Dr. Belluomini, we know not, he never entered the 
chamber, or saw the body of his deceased wife 
again. When his immediate departure was deter- 
mined upon, he sent for Mr. Beale, music-dealer, of 
St. Anne's Square, to whom, though not previously 
acquainted with him, he expressed his wishes with 
respect to the funeral. He particularly desired that 
no cast of the head or face should be taken, nor 
any portrait, and that no post mortem examination 
should be made ; and, in short, that the body should 
not be touched by any one, except in the course of 
the necessary preparations for interment. He also 
gave a written document to Mr. Beale, authorizing 
him to conduct the arrangements as to the inter- 
ment, and to fix the time, place, &c, of the funeral, 
as he should deem proper. 

Before M. de Beriot quitted the house, he pre- 
sented to Mrs. Richardson a ring of turquoises, set 
in black enamel, which had been worn by Madame 
Malibran herself, and also a locket, containing 
some of the deceased's hair ; and both he and Dr. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 89 

Belluomini promised to write to her when able to do 
so. He was so reduced in strength that he could 
hardly stand, and was supported by Mrs. Richard- 
son to the carriage, in which he quitted Manchester 
within one hour after the death of his wife. 

The daily papers spoke of the strong reciprocal 
affection which De Beriot and his gifted wife mani- 
fested for each other during their short stay at Man- 
chester, and mentioned one or two instances in 
which Madame Malibran had exhibited her anxious 
affection for her husband's health and professional 
eclat; while his unremitting and assiduous atten- 
dance by her sick-bed, his eagerness to anticipate 
her every wish and want, formed an equally marked 
characteristic of the strength of his attachment to 
her. To these facts may be added, that even when 
she was unable to speak to him, Madame Malibran 
frequently pressed his hands in hers, and turned her 
head on one side that she might look upon him. In 
the course of a conversation with Mrs. Richardson, 
at an early stage of her illness, she mentioned that 
she had known De Beriot nine years, and had been 
seven years of that time married to him, but that 
she had not been able to make their marriage known 
till within the last two years ; what circumstances 

8* 



90 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

had prevented its due publicity she did not say. 
She then added, emphatically, " If he had had any 
faults, I should have found them out before now ; 
but there never was such a man. I am certainly 
blessed with a most affectionate husband ; and that, 
I am afraid, few can say in a similar situation to 
myself." She had two children during marriage ; 
one, a girl, died in her infancy, and the other a boy, 
about four years old, of whom she spoke to Mrs. 
Richardson, as residing with her paternal aunt, at 
an estate purchased by his father and mother, in the 
neighbourhood of Brussels. M. de Beriot wrote to 
his sister, after his arrival in London, that it was 
his intention, after staying a few hours, to pro- 
ceed immediately to this estate, to join her and his 
child. 

In justice to all parties it may be right to state, 
that from the time of Dr. Belluomini's arrival, Drs. 
Hull and Bardsley, and Mr. Worthington, who had 
attended Madame Malibran up to that period, at 
the request of the festival committee, ceased their 
visits. Dr. Belluomini declined holding a consulta- 
tion with them on the case, hearing their reasons for 
the mode of treatment they had adopted ; alleging, 
thztf as he was a homceopathist, and as his practice 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 91 

was consequently very different from theirs, a con- 
sultation could be of no use whatever. Dr. Bel- 
luomini was not at all known to the faculty in 
Manchester, nor does it appear what his course of 
treatment of the deceased had been from the Sun- 
day evening up to the time when Mr. Lewis was 
called in. 

Amongst other groundless rumours one that was 
very rife was, that Madame Malibran was in the 
habit of taking wine or liqueurs too freely, and that 
it was to this cause, and not to any sudden faintness 
from over-exertion, that must be attributed what 
some were pleased to call her " sham" illness. 

There is authority for the most unqualified con- 
tradiction to this rumour, both as to the cause of 
the illness which terminated so fatally, and as to 
the general habit so roundly charged upon the un- 
fortunate deceased. So far from its being any thing 
like the truth, it is affirmed that since her arrival at 
Manchester she never (with one slight exception) 
tasted either spirits or wine ; and for this reason, 
that, in her own opinion, either the one or the other 
would have had an injurious effect upon her voice ; 
her regimen for which was a few oysters and a 
small quantity of bottled porter, sometimes diluted 



92 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

with water. The slanderous report had been so 
industriously circulated, that by some means it 
reached the ears of Madame Malibran herself, and, 
it is needless to say, gave her no inconsiderable 
pain. She mentioned it to Mrs. Novello, exclaim- 
ing indignantly, " To think, Mrs. Novello, that they 
say I drink ! O it is grievous ! What will they 
say next of me?" Mrs. Novello endeavoured to 
soothe her, saying, " Never mind, dear ; it is the 
envious spirit of inferior talent to depreciate those 
who excel." On another occasion, when, thirsty 
from the fever, Madame Malibran asked Dr. Bards- 
ley if she might take a little champagne and water, 
the doctor said she might, and she took a small 
quantity, which she seemed to enjoy, as being cool 
and refreshing. But so great was her objection to 
spirits, that when a little was recommended to her, 
mixed with water, she absolutely refused to touch 
it. Sir George Smart, when told of this rumour, 
expressed himself in very strong terms. He said 
he had known her intimately from her childhood, 
both in private life and in her public professional 
engagements, and he was satisfied that the asser- 
tion as to her habits was destitute of the slightest 
foundation in truth. 



OF MADAME MAL1BRAN. 93 

It has already been stated that M. de Beriot, just 
before quitting Manchester, gave to Mr. Beale a 
written authority to conduct the whole of the fune- 
ral arrangements, in such a manner as he should 
deem consonant with the feelings of her friends. 
Mr. Beale, naturally sensible of the delicacy of the 
situation in which he was placed, was desirous to 
have the sanction and co-operation of the Festival 
Committee, or at least of some committee deputed 
by them to act with him ; and, in accordance with 
his wish, expressed to some of the influential mem- 
bers of that committee, a special general meeting 
of the whole, comprising about three hundred and 
twenty gentlemen, was convened by circular for 
Monday morning, for the purpose of taking the sub- 
ject into consideration. There was a very nume- 
rous attendance in obedience to the summons, more 
members being present than on any former occa- 
sion during the existence of the committee. It was 
determined at that meeting that the funeral should 
be a public one, and a sub-committee of fifteen or 
sixteen gentlemen was appointed for the purpose of 
making the requisite arrangements. This sub-com- 
mittee accordingly met, and continued in delibera- 
tion for some hours. They appointed that the 



94 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

funeral should take place on the following Satur- 
day, and as Madame Malibran de Beriot was of the 
Roman Catholic faith, the service should be first 
performed by the side of the body, at the hotel, by 
the Rev. James Cook, the senior priest of St. Au- 
gustine's Chapel, Granby Row; and that imme- 
diately afterwards, about ten o'clock in the morn- 
ing, the funeral procession should set out from the 
Mosley Arms, for the Collegiate Church, within 
some part of which edifice the deceased should be 
interred. 

It being thought desirable that, if possible, M. de 
Beriot should return to Manchester, and attend the 
funeral as chief mourner, Mr. Beale, jun. (of the 
firm of Cramer, Addison, and Beale, London) was 
written to, at the request of the sub-committee, to 
ascertain if M. de Beriot was in London, and if so, 
to wait upon him, that he might represent the wish 
of the committee, and the obvious propriety of his 
paying the last mark of respect to the remains of 
the deceased. A letter was received by return of 
post, stating that on Mr. Beale commencing his 
mission he found that De Beriot had already quitted 
London for Antwerp or Brussels, which place was 
not certain. No letter had been received in town 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 95 

from M. de Beriot since his departure. Under these 
circumstances, it was arranged that a number of 
gentlemen should officiate as chief mourners and 
pall-bearers. Sir George Smart expressed his in- 
tention to be present ; and a letter was received by 
a member of the sub-committee from Mr. Bunn, the 
manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, stating 
that he would be present to pay the last mark of 
respect to the memory of the unfortunate deceased. 
The sub-committee made a request that those gen- 
tlemen who intended in either way to mark their 
sense of the unfortunate calamity, and their regret 
for the loss which had been sustained, would notify 
their intention to the committee at the Town Hall 
before twelve o'clock on the following Friday. The 
committee met again on Thursday, and it was ex- 
pected that they would shortly be prepared to give 
to the public a report on the circumstances con- 
nected with Madame Malibran's illness and death. 

Several applications had been made at the Mos- 
ley Arms, by artists and others, to be allowed to 
take a sketch of the features, or to make a cast 
from the head and face of the deceased ; but not 
one of these applications was granted : the instruc- 
tions of M. de Beriot, in this respect, having been 



96 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

complied with to the letter. The body was placed 
in a leaden coffin on the Sunday night, and about 
ten o'clock on the following morning the lid was 
soldered down. 

THE FUNERAL. . 

At eight o'clock on Saturday morning the tolling 
of the muffled bell at the Collegiate Church an- 
nounced the preparations for the funeral. At that 
time several gentlemen who were to take part in 
the ceremony had assembled at the Mosley Arms. 
The main entrance of the hotel was, in deference 
to the ceremonials of the dead towards persons of 
distinction on the Continent, hung with black dra- 
pery, and fell in folds at each side of the door. At 
half-past nine the Rev. J. Cook, and the Rev. R. 
Firth, of St. Augustine's Chapel, in Granby Row, 
were admitted into the chamber where the body of 
Madame Malibran reposed, to perform the service 
of the Catholic Church. These gentlemen were 
followed by the mourners, and some of Mrs. 
Richardson's family. The body, enclosed in an 
oak shell, which was placed in a leaden coffin, and 
afterwards in another solid oak coffin, covered with 
black cloth, was laid on the bed. An ivory crucifix 



OF MADAME MALIBRAtf. 97 

was placed on the lid at the head of the coffin, and 
on each side was a wax light in silver branches. 
On the mantel-shelf were four other wax lights. 
The mourners and pall-bearers were then arranged 
at each side of the bed, and the. Rev. Mr. Cook and 
the Rev. Mr. Firth stood at the foot, and read the 
office for the dead. The service commenced with 
the 129th Psalm and the 50th Psalm, which were 
read in Latin. These were followed by other por- 
tions of the service used on such occasions, in the 
course of which the ceremony of sprinkling the 
body was also performed. 

The reverend gentlemen and the mourners then 
left the room, and arrangements w r ere made for 
conveying the body to the church. 

At half-past ten o'clock the hearse, drawn by four 
horses, was brought up to the door of the hotel. 
The body was then removed from the chamber in 
which it had lain, and carried by six men to the 
hearse. The coffin, which was, as we stated be- 
fore, composed of solid oak, was covered with 
handsome black cloth, and (as is the custom in Lan- 
cashire) had no other ornament than the black han- 
dles on each side, and at the head and foot. A 
brass plate, in the form of a shield on the lid, con- 

VOL. II. 9 



98 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

tained the following inscription, under the figure of 
the cross : — 

MARIA FELICIA DE BERIOT. 

DIED SEPTEMBER 23, 1836, 
AGED 28 YEARS. ' 

A similar brass plate, surmounted with the wings 
of the cherubim, and containing the same inscrip- 
tion, was placed at the back of the hearse. 

Six mourning coaches, with four horses each, 
were then drawn up to the door of the hotel, and 
the mourners entered in the following ord«r : — 

In the first coach, Mr. Macvicar, the borough- 
reeve of Manchester, as chief mourner, supported 
by the Earl of Wilton, and Sir George Smart. 

In the second coach, Mr. Beale, Mr. Willert, 
Mr. Bunn of Drury Lane Theatre, and Mr. Brandt 
the barrister. 

In the third coach, Mr. Shore, Mr. Joseph Ewart, 
Mr. Wright, and Mr. Shuttleworth. 

In the fourth coach, Mr. Lot Gardener, Mr. 
Bellhouse, and Mr. Withington, members of the 
Festival Committee. 

In the fifth coach, Mr. Sharp, Mr. George Peel, 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 99 

and Mr. Hodgson, churchwardens of Manchester ; 
and Mr. Joseph Peel, a magistrate. 

In the sixth carriage, Mr. Wanklyn, treasurer of 
the Festival; Mr. Thomas Potter, a magistrate, 
and brother to the member for Wigan ; Mr. Broad- 
hurst, and Mr. S. Phillips, magistrates. 

It was near eleven o'clock, when the procession 
left the hotel, and it moved in the following order : 

The Deputy Constable of Manchester, with a party of his 
men, their staves covered with black crape. 

Two mutes with staves. 

About sixty gentlemen of the town, dressed in deep 

mourning, and walking three abreast. 

State-lid of feathers. 

The hearse, drawn by four beautiful black horses; the 
hearse, also ornamented with feathers. 

Six mourning coaches, each drawn by four horses, con- 
taining the mourners and pall-bearers; each carriage 
was attended by two men with black staves. 

Then followed a long train of private carriages, 
among which were those of Earl Wilton, Mr. Mark 
Phillips, M.P. ; Mr. TrafTord of Trafford; Mr. 
Chadwick of Swinerton ; Mr. Atherton ; Mr. Fort 
of Sedgley ; Mr. John Brooks, Mr. Hardman, Mr. 
Walfe, Mr. Edmund Bushley, Mrs. Richardson, 
Mr. Garnett, Mr. R. I. I. Harris, Mr. G. W. Wood, 



100 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

late member for Lancashire ; Mr. Walker of Lei- 
cestershire, Mr. Thomas Potter, Mr. Heywood, &c. 
The procession, in order to avoid the incon- 
venience of passing through the streets adjacent to 
the church on market-day, took the following 
route : down Market Street, through St. Mary's- 
gate, over Blackfriars Bridge into Salford ; through 
Greengate, over the Iron Bridge, which crosses the 
Irwell, and through Hunt's Bank to the church. 
Throughout the whole line, from the hotel to the 
church, an immense number of persons lined each 
side of the street, the whole of whom behaved in 
the most becoming and decent manner, and did not 
evince the slightest appearance of levity. At Sal- 
ford the flag on the church steeple was hoisted 
half-mast high, and the muffled bell tolled in the 
most mournful manner. At the Collegiate Church 
the flag on the tower was also hoisted half-mast 
high. On the arrival of the procession at the 
sacred enclosure, the gentlemen who preceded the 
hearse were joined by another numerous party of 
gentlemen, and formed themselves into a double 
line from the church-gates to the church, whilst the 
body, supported by the pall-bearers, and attended 
by the mourners, passed through them. The pro- 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 101 

cession was met at the entrance by the Rev. C. D. 
Wray, the Rev. R. Parkinson, and the Rev. Mr. 
Marsden, with the choir in full robes. In this 
manner the procession entered the church, the pall 
supported by Mr. Phillips, Mr. Potter, Mr. Broad- 
hurst, Mr. Sharp, Mr. Hodgson, Mr. G. Peel, Mr. 
Wanklyn, and Mr. Joseph Peel. The pall-bearers 
wore silk scarfs and hatbands, and the mourners 
were dressed in deep mourning with black crape 
scarfs and hatbands. The gentlemen who had pre- 
ceded the body from the hotel followed the proces- 
sion into the church. The pulpit and reading desks 
were hung with black cloth. 

The church, at this period, presented a singularly 
mournful appearance. The galleries, the aisles, and 
every spot from whence a view could be obtained, 
were crowded to excess by persons of highly re- 
spectable appearance, the greater part of whom 
were attired in mourning. As the body entered 
the door of the church, the organ commenced play- 
ing the "Dead March in Saul," and in a few mo- 
ments the body of her who only ten days before 
delighted the thousands that had assembled under 
the same roof, was placed on the bier, in the centre 
aisle, a cold and inanimate corpse. 

9* 



102 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

The burial service commenced by the 39th and 
90th Psalms, which were chanted by the choir. 
The Rev. Mr. Wray then read the epistle taken 
from the 15th chapter of Corinthians, after which 
the choir sang, in a most affecting manner, an 
anthem from the Psalms that had been selected for 
the occasion. The beautiful air which Madame 
Malibran sang on Wednesday, " O Lord, have 
mercy upon me, for I am in trouble," was then 
played on the organ, and recalled the recollection 
of the splendid talent which she displayed when she 
sang that piece to the audience. The body was 
then carried on the bier, preceded by the pall- 
bearers, through the church to the south aisle, 
where a grave was prepared for its reception. It 
appears that this grave originally belonged to a 
Fitzherbert family, and had not been opened for a 
period of fifty years, when (it was stated) a Catholic 
priest was interred. The grave was about five feet 
and a half deep. When the necessary arrange- 
ments were made, the mortal remains of Madame 
Malibran were lowered into the earth, and the ser- 
vice was read in a most impressive manner by the 
Rev. Mr, Wray. The mourners and other friends 
who surrounded the grave took a last look at the 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 103 

coffin, and with tears in their eyes retired from the 
spot. The thousands who were in the church then 
pressed forward to see the grave; and in order 
that they should have a perfect view of the coffin, 
candles were placed at the head and foot, and the 
church door having been thrown open, the im- 
mense multitude entered one way, and retired by 
another. The most perfect order prevailed through- 
out this proceeding, and not the slightest interrup- 
tion or disturbance was made. 

In the church were observed many of the leading 
merchants and other gentlemen in Manchester; 
and, mixed with the crowd, w r as also noticed Mr. 
Kean, the tragedian, who had been playing during 
the last week at Liverpool. 

The funeral w r as conducted by Mr. Satterfield, of 
St. Ann's Square, Manchester. 

As a mark of respect to Madame Malibran, the 
mourners attended service at the Collegiate Church 
on the following Sunday. 

The rich and the poor, all the gradations of 
society, impelled by one common feeling — that of 
offering the tribute of their homage to departed 
greatness — thronged to witness the closing obsequies 
of Malibran. Many persons of distinction were 



104 MEMOIRS, ETC. 

seen endeavouring to effect a passage through the 
crowd, offering heavy sums for seats, whence they 
might witness the noble and ennobling ceremonies 
performed over the mighty dead. 

While a dense mass of spectators were collected 
around the consecrated spot, the solemnity of the 
scene was rendered more impressive by the break- 
ing out of a tremendous storm. The rain poured 
down in heavy showers, more like buckets of 
water than rain-drops ; but to the honour of Man- 
chester it must be recorded, that not one man, how- 
ever humble his station in life, was seen to put on 
his hat — they one and all remained uncovered. 
There was not a lady who, attaching a trivial and 
undue importance to her dress, attempted to put up 
her parasol, or to leave the melancholy scene in 
search of shelter — they stood their ground with as 
much patience and zeal as if it had been the finest 
day in summer: so enthralled were their feelings 
by the deeply moving scene, that they appeared 
perfectly unconscious of the fearful and not inap- 
propriate, commotion of the elements. 



NOTES, ANECDOTES, &c. 



NOTES, ANECDOTES, &c. 



MADAME MALIBRAN's RETURN FROM AMERICA, AND 
DEBUT AT PARIS. 

During the season of 1827 and 1828, the per- 
formances of Mademoiselle Sontag attracted crowds 
to the Opera Italien in Paris. Mademoiselle Sontag 
was at that time the idol of the French public. 

Whilst that charming singer was in the zenith of 
her popularity Madame Malibran returned from 
New York. She sang at several private parties. 
The tones of her voice excited wonder and admira- 
tion in the musical circles of Paris, and Madame 
Malibran became the engrossing topic of conver- 
sation. 
I Nevertheless, the directors of the opera Buffa, 



108 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

deterred either by pecuniary considerations, or by 
the fear of placing two great vocalists in rivalry 
one to the other, allowed two months to elapse before 
they made any offer of engagement to Madame 
Malibran. 

In the interim she availed herself of the oppor- 
tunity afforded by Galli's benefit, which took place 
at the Grand Opera, and she made her debut in the 
character of Semiramide. The success which at- 
tended that performance immediately procured for 
her an engagement at the Theatre Italien. Otello 
was the opera chosen for her first appearance. 
Never did any singer produce so surprising an 
effect. The audience were enthusiastic in their ap- 
plause. They knew not which most to admire, the 
singular power and extent of her voice, the deep 
feeling and expression of her style, or her energetic 
and impassioned acting. 

HER ACTING. 

Such was the extraordinary impression produced 
by Madame Malibran's acting, that she seemed to 
have attained, intuitively, that perfection which in 
Talma was the result of long years of study. Yet 
her acting was not, as many have supposed, the 



OF MADAME MALIBRAtf. 109 

mere inspiration of the moment. Those who have 
heard Madame Malibran converse on the histrionic 
art, must be convinced that she made it a subject of 
profound reflection. Her father took her with him 
to Italy when she was scarcely four years of age, 
and consequently, in her earliest childhood, her 
thoughts and attention had been turned to the study 
of acting. Being endowed with quick intelligence, 
profound sensibility, and a peculiar facility for imita- 
tion, she appeared destined by nature to become an 
actress. Indeed the dramatic art was one of the 
few things which Madame Malibran made an ob- 
ject of serious study. 

Her gayety was inexhaustible, and imparted ani- 
mation and cheerfulness to all who surrounded her; 
but when her mind was occupied by the study of 
any new part, she applied herself to it with the most 
profound and abstracted attention. When on the 
stage, her efforts never for a single moment relaxed. 
She was excellent even in the most subordinate de- 
tails of a character ; she never allowed" herself to 
be influenced by preferences for particular authors 
or composers, but entered heart and soul into the 
character she had to sustain. 

Madame Malibran was once asked which was 

VOL. II, 10 



110 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

her favourite character] — Her answer was, " The 
character I may happen to be acting, whatever it 
may be." 

VOICE AND STVLE OF SINGING. 

Madame Malibran's voice embraced three com- 
plete octaves, extending from the contralto D to the 
upper soprano D. There is no sound in nature 
which can convey any idea of her lower notes. 
Those who never heard her sing the romance in 
Otello, — those who never heard her soul-moving 
tones in that sublime phrase in the Capuletti, Sul mio 
sasso, have not felt the vibration of the tenderest 
chord of the heart. 

Her voice, though sufficiently powerful to fill the 
spacious theatres of San Carlos and La Scala, was 
capable of executing with precision all the diffi- 
culties of vocal composition: ascending and de- 
scending scales, fiorituri, cadences, all were equally 
easy to her. She had not, like many other singers, 
a few favourite ornaments to introduce without 
distinction into every piece; her ornaments were 
always in perfect unison with the style of the 
music, with the meaning of the words, and with 
the dramatic situation of the character. Her style 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. Ill 

was light and graceful in the Opera Buffa, and 
grand in the serious opera ; and every note she in- 
troduced seemed to be an integral part of the piece 
to which they were adapted. 

CHARACTER AND DISPOSITION. 

Maria Malibran, by her noble and generous dis- 
position, conciliated the esteem and attachment of 
all her operatic comrades. When she became ac- 
quainted with Mademoiselle Sontag, she found her 
no less distinguished for amiable feeling than for 
brilliant talent, and she conceived a cordial friend- 
ship for her. All who heard them sing together 
the duos in Semiramide and Tancredi, will remem- 
ber the exquisite ornaments they introduced, and 
which owed their origin to the inventive fancy of 
Madame Malibran. Their voices seemed as though 
they had been created one for the other, and pre- 
sented the beau ideal of perfect harmony. Their 
duos were the perfection of art, and were like the 
performance of one singer with two voices. Envy 
had no place in the heart of Maria Malibran. The 
success of her friends gratified her no less than her 
own success ; and she was always ready to defend 
those who were the objects of severe criticism. 



112 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

She never sought to arrogate a superiority over 
others, by setting herself forward in prominent cha- 
racters. In taking the secondary part of Zerlina in 
Don Giovanni, whilst Mademoiselle Sontag per- 
formed the character of Donna Anna, she gave a 
proof of the absence of that professional arrogance 
which ever accompanies mediocrity. The public 
fully appreciated this feeling ; and every night re- 
iterated rounds of applause obliged her to repeat 
the air Batti, batti, bel Masetto. 

BENEVOLENCE, 

Madame Malibran's greatest pleasure consisted 
in doing good. She was never so happy as when 
she had the opportunity of performing a benevolent 
action. 

One day a child was presented to her as a juve- 
nile prodigy. She was at first struck with the ima- 
gination and genius indicated by the child ; but his 
pale countenance denoted the exhaustion attendant 
on excessive labour. The boy was the child of 
poor parents, and he was the only support of his 
family. Madame Malibran was touched by the 
condition of the child, and called the father's atten- 
tion to the state of his health. "We are poor, 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 113 

madame," was the father's reply, " and this child is 
our Providence." Next day the family received a 
hundred louis transmitted to them by an unknown 
hand, and they knew not the name of their benefac- 
tress till Madame Malibran was numbered with the 
dead. 

TASTE FOR DRAMATIC AMUSEMENTS. 

Madame Malibran sought in the drama itself a 
recreation from dramatic exertions. The theatre 
was her greatest source of enjoyment ; and how- 
ever mediocre a performance might be, it always 
afforded her some interest. She was full of enthu- 
siasm for the beautiful in art ; and whilst she was 
anxious to render her tribute of admiration to the 
talents of her professional colleagues, she was ever 
indulgent to mediocrity. When present at any 
dramatic performance, she directed her attention 
exclusively to the business of the stage ; her eyes 
and ears were riveted on what she saw and heard ; 
and she could never be induced to leave her box 
till the fall of the curtain. 

CONCERT FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE POOR AT CALAIS. 

In April, 1830, Madame Malibran, on her way 
irom Paris to London, stopped in Calais for the 

10* 



114 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

purpose of giving a concert for the benefit of the 
poor in that city. It was proposed that the concert 
should take place in the rooms of the Philharmonic 
Society, but they were found to be too small. It 
was suggested by Madame Malibran that the per- 
formance should take place in the theatre, which 
was calculated to accommodate a more numerous 
audience, and consequently to ensure larger re- 
ceipts for the objects of the charity. Madame 
Malibran's wish was complied with, and in a few 
hours all the necessary arrangements were com- 
pleted. On her entrance she was greeted by the 
most rapturous applause. She sang three times in 
the first part of the concert, and at its conclusion 
she went round to the principal boxes, conducted 
by the president of the Philharmonic Society, to 
collect a subscription for the charity. It is impos- 
sible to describe the fascinating grace with which 
she acquitted herself of this benevolent task. 

king's theatre, 1830. 

During the season of 1830, Madame Malibran 
performed at the King's Theatre. The impression 
she produced must be fresh in the recollection of 
many who peruse these pages; it is amply de- 






OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 115 

scribed in the London journals of the time. After 
two years, divided between Paris and London, her 
reputation was established throughout. Europe. But 
amidst these triumphs — whilst surrounded by popu- 
lar homage and admiration — ; Maria Malibran was 
not happy. From the end of the year, 1830, Ma- 
dame Malibran and De Beriot never separated. 
They visited together the principal cities of Italy, 
France, and England. 

DEPARTURE FOR ITALY IN 1832. 

About the month of May, 1832, when the cho- 
lera had made its way to Paris, Lablache left Eng- 
land to proceed to Italy. With the view of avoid- 
ing the cordons sanitaires, which were established 
along the French frontier, he determined to pass 
through Belgium, and take the route of the Rhine. 
In Brussels he saw Madame Malibran and De 
Beriot, and jokingly proposed that they should ac- 
company him to Naples, never imagining that they 
would seriously think of such a thing. To his sur- 
prise they agreed to go. In the course of a few 
hours their travelling preparations were completed, 
and they were on their road to Italy with Lablache 
and his family. In the hurry of their departure 



116 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

they neglected the observance of a very essential 
formality in obtaining their passports, viz. the sanc- 
tion of the Austrian ambassador. There was, it is 
true, at that time, no Austrian legation in Brussels, 
but that reason was not deemed sufficient by the 
authorities of Lombardy. The consequence was, 
that Madame Malibran and De Beriot were obliged 
to stop at Chiavenna for three days, at the expira- 
tion of which time Lablache sent them, from Milan, 
an express with the governor's orders for allowing 
them to proceed without further obstacle. 

MADAME MALIBRAN'S DEBUT AT ROME IN 1832. 

On her arrival in Milan, she was invited to seve- 
ral private parties given by the governor and Duke 
Visconti. Madame Malibran and her travelling 
companions remained only twelve days at Milan, 
and then proceeded to Rome, where she performed 
six times. It may be possible to convey an idea 
of a musical triumph in France or in England; 
but the enthusiasm of popular feeling excited on 
similar occasions in Italy can only be conceived by 
those who have witnessed it — it was a frenzy, a de- 
lirium. 

At Rome, the censorship wished to mutilate the 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN". 117 

libretto of Otello, by striking out certain words and 
phrases, especially the passage delivered by Des- 
demona's father, beginning Ti maledico. But 
Madame Malibran at once saw and disapproved 
the absurdity of cancelling a passage on which the 
whole meaning and interest of the scene depend. 
She positively refused to sing, except on condition 
of the opera being performed without curtailment; 
and at length the censor was obliged to yield the 
point. This fact was the more extraordinary in a 
country in which the rigour of the public authorities 
is extreme, and in which every one obeys them with- 
out a murmur. 

DEATH OF GARCIA. 

Whilst she was in Rome, and in the midst of her 
triumphs, Madame Malibran received intelligence of 
the death of her father — he who had once been her 
master and her model. At the moment when the 
fatal news was communicated to her, she was at a 
rehearsal ;— she fainted, and it was found necessary 
to convey her home immediately. But the perform- 
ance for the following evening had been announced, 
and that sad necessity which belongs to the profes- 
sion of an actress, obliged her to appear on the 



118 MEMOIRS ASD LETTERS 

stage, and to go through her part, whilst suffering 
under the most painful state of feeling. 

NAPLES IN THE SEASON OF 1832. 

About the beginning of August, 1832, Madame 
Malibran made her debut at Naples. For a time 
she had to struggle against some petty intrigues, 
which, however, her talent speedily subdued. The 
following remarks on the acting of Madame Mali- 
bran, especially her performance of Desdemona, 
are from the pen of a distinguished Italian critic. 

" The powerful impression she produces, has its 
origin in her extreme sensibility. It is impossible 
to impart either to air or recitative a more true 
and impassioned expression. It is impossible to 
conceive more dramatic action or more eloquent 
silence. 

" There is always some appearance of vanity in 
manifesting one's own sensations, that is to say, 
when they appertain exclusively to one's self. But 
we are sure to find numerous echoes, when our sen- 
sations are produced by rare and predominant 
talent. The individual then disappears, and the 
actress alone remains. We eagerly receive every 
impression of which she is the exciting cause ; — our 



OF MADAME MALIBRAtf. 119 

own become insufficient, and we seek those of others 
in order to increase the pleasure and prolong its 
power. These are the only circumstances under 
which we listen with indulgence to those who depict 
what they feel. Such is the influence of superior 
talent, — talent which is the offspring of nature, 
rather than of study. The spectator is indifferent 
when he knows beforehand the gesture and attitude 
which the performer is about to assume : he looks 
on without enthusiasm, and no longer indentifies 
himself with the character represented. 

" But when a dramatic performer combines with 
impassioned acting the charms of a fine voice and a 
beautiful person, we may justly pronounce it to be 
perfection. This perfection is found in Madame 
Malibran. 

"I imagined that I had experienced every emotion 
I could possibly be excited to by the representation 
of the beautiful and sublime opera of Otello ; but I 
was mistaken. It remained for Madame Malibran 
to awaken the most susceptible chord in my heart. 
Her first entrance on the stage sufficiently denotes 
the powerful effect she is capable of producing : — 

4 Meme quand l'oiseau marche, on voit qu'il a des ailes.' 
" What an easy and graceful deportment ! what 



120 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

pliancy in all her movements ! The illusion is com- 
plete. It is not Madame Malibran singing to the 
audience ; it is Desdemona herself pouring forth her 
plaintive strains. A feeling of lassitude creeps over 
our senses when she says : — 

' II rigor d' avverso fato sono stanca di soffrir.' 

" Then again in the duo, after being wholly im- 
bued with a sentiment that seemed to her like celes- 
tial bliss, she suddenly draws aside the flattering 
veil, and exclaims : — 

4 Quanto son frizi i palpiti che desta in noi 1' amore !' 

" In the finale of the first act, with what a happy 
union of dignity and submission she follows her 
father ! With what an angelic expression she ad- 
dresses to him the question whether he wishes her 
to accept the hand of Rodrigo ! How she imposes 
silence on the latter, and with what contemptuous 
indifference she hears his declaration ! Strong in 
her love for Otello, she stands like a rock against 
which the angry w r aves vainly beat* How over- 
powering is her terror when she sees her love 
enter ! The expression of her countenance at that 
moment tells the story of the whole opera. In what 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 121 

a tone of touching naivete she tells her father that 
she has promised to wed the African warrior. 
She feels all the misery to which this confession 
exposes her; — but no matter, she summons resolu- 
tion to brave it all. Nevertheless, her father's 
curse wrings from her a cry of horror which thrills 
the heart of every hearer. Madame Malibran 
closes the first act in the same exquisite style in 
which she commences it. 

" As to the second act, the effect it produces is 
wholly due to the genius of Madame Malibran. 
The anxiety betrayed in her whole deportment when 
she enters — the glance of disdain which she casts at 
Rodrigo — her expressions of solicitude and affection 
for Otello, on whom she keeps her eyes steadfastly 
fixed — all are convincing proofs of her innocence. 
If she were seconded by an actor fully imbued 
with the spirit of his part, he might, with a single 
word, give the finishing stroke of perfection to this 
scene. Desdemona swoons, and recovers only to 
feel in its full force the horror of her position. She 
addresses the chorus with earnest inquietude, ques- 
tions each individual with gestures and looks. Her 
anguish becomes almost painful to the spectator. 
At length, after an interval of suspense, the word 

VOL. II. 11 



\ % M MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

vim is pronounced. What a sudden transition 
— what a celestial expression beams on the counte- 
nance of Madame Malibran ! Like a flower which 
droops its head beneath the sun's too powerful rays, 
until revived by the refreshing dews of evening — so 
Madame Malibran, at the word vive, rises and ad- 
vances across the stage with a rapidity inspired by 
the emotion which pervades her whole being. This 
is sublime ! It is the finest point throughout the 
whole of the part. It is the triumph of art, and a 
triumph the more complete, inasmuch as art is per- 
fectly concealed in the guise of simple nature. The 
divine expression of her countenance cannot be 
described ; but the soul-kindled glance, the look of 
delight, are immediately repressed at the sight of her 
father! Her joy is succeeded by a deep melan- 
choly. How touching are the tones of her voice 
when she utters the phrase, ' Se il Padre rrCabban- 
dona V 

" Poor Desdemona reappears in the last act, with 
that air of placid sadness which never again for- 
sakes her. She casts her eyes around her, and 
gazes at every object with indifference. Misery 
is depicted in every gesture. She receives the 
attentions of her friend, rather from affability than 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 123 

from the hope that they can convey to her any 
consolation. She feels the presentiment of her ap- 
proaching death. This is evidently betrayed when 
she hears the song of the gondolier, who is about to 
return to his family. She despairs of ever again 
seeing her beloved. She casts down her head ! 
What magical effect does Madame Malibran pro- 
duce by that simple and natural gesture ! 

" During the storm, she fancies that the noise 
is occasioned by some one entering her apartment ; 
and this idea is so eloquently expressed by her 
movements, that it is for a moment communicated 
to the spectator; and her restored tranquillity, when 
she discovers that imagination alone has deceived 
her, gives a peculiar reflection to the tones of her 
voice, as she utters the words, ' Come il del s'unisce 
a miei lamentV Her attitude, when at her lyre, is 
a study for an artist. 

" What can be more touching than her manner of 
taking leave of her friend ? The door closes ; she 
implores Heaven to grant her repose. In the last 
duo, Madame Malibran is perfectly electrifying. 
Her joy on beholding Otello, and her horror at per- 
ceiving the dagger, and then her sudden rush towards 
him, imploring him to plunge it into her bosom — all 



124 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

are the perfections of grace and truth to nature. 
There is no appearance of force or study. Every 
movement appears to spring from the inspiration of 
the moment, and this is the secret of Madame Ma- 
libran's captivating power. When she exclaims to 
Otello, * E un vile e un traditore? her accent excites 
a thrill of indignation against the monster Iago. To 
the close — to the last moment of the death-scene, 
Madame Malibran evinces a divine conception of 
the part, accompanied by inimitable action, and ex- 
traordinary musical power. Never before was such 
versatility of talent combined in any operatic per- 
former." 

bologna, 1832. 

Madame Malibran, accompanied by De Beriot, 
departed about the end of September for Bologna, 
where she was engaged for twenty performances. 
Some idea of the extraordinary admiration she ex- 
cited in the last-mentioned place, may be gathered 
from the following remarks. They are extracted 
from a letter dated Bologna. 

" It is midnight. The performance at the theatre 
is just ended. I have just returned home, proud of the 
impression which Madame Malibran has produced. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 125 

I never saw an audience so enthusiastic : Madame 
Malibran was recalled twenty-four times. The ap- 
probation was kept up for more than an hour, and 
during the whole time wreaths of laurel and immor- 
telles, which had been brought expressly from Flo- 
rence, were thrown on the stage. These wreaths 
were accompanied by slips ofjpaper, on which were 
inscribed sonnets and odes. In short, such rapturous 
admiration was never before manifested at Bologna. 
The inhabitants of that city, who are so remarkable 
for taste and intelligence, rendered the fullest homage 
to the talents of the distinguished cantatrice, and on 
the same evening they inaugurated her bust in marble, 
which is placed in the entrance of the theatre." 

This was Madame Malibran's last performance in 
Bologna. When she left the theatre the people 
ranged themselves in rows, on either side of the 
streets through which she had to pass, and saluted 
her with shouts of approbation. On her arrival at 
her hotel, a crowd collected beneath her windows, 
and could not be prevailed on to disperse until she 
had shown herself in the balcony. 

After four hours' rest, Madame Malibran set oft 
on her journey to Paris and Brussels. 

11* 



126 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

She left Brussels for London in the spring of 1833, 
to fulfil her engagement at Drury Lane. 

ENGAGEMENT AT DRURY LANE THEATRE. 

Madame Malibran was engaged to perform twenty 
nights at the Drury Lane Theatre in the season of 
1833. The opera made choice of for her first ap- 
pearance, and which for that purpose was translated 
into English, was Bellini's Sonnambula. She next 
appeared in Beethoven's Fidelio, and subsequently 
in an opera by Chelard, composed expressly for her. 

MADAME MALIBRAN'S FACILITY IN THE ACQUISITION OF 
LANGUAGES. 

Madame Malibran could speak fluently French, 
English, Italian, and Spanish. Her conversation was 
replete with imagination, originality, and grace. 
When in rapid conversation her vivacity carried her 
away, and if she could not immediately recollect a 
particular word in the language she happened to be 
speaking, she would immediately resort to another 
language for a term to express her meaning. One 
day in the warmth of an animated discussion, a 
friend remarked that her language was party- 
coloured like harlequin's suit. " True," she replied, 
". it is party-coloured like harlequin, but not masked." 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 127 



ENGAGEMENTS IN ENGLAND AND NAPLES. 

In 1833 Madame Malibran and De Beriot were 
engaged in England to perform at the three grand 
music meetings at Norwich, Worcester, and Liver- 
pool. 

At the termination of the three festivals they de- 
parted for Naples, where Madame Malibran had an 
engagement which was likely to detain her for four 
months in that city. Norma w r as the favourite opera 
of the season, and in that piece Malibran's talents 
shone with renewed lustre. In the favourite trio, her 
manner of giving the passage, " Ah non tremar" 
was truly sublime ; and in the duo, "Inmia man 
affin tu sei" she made the theatre resound with ap- 
plause. Norma was the opera chosen for the closing 
performance of the season. Never was Neapolitan 
enthusiasm so highly excited. Madame Malibran 
was called upon the stage no less than twenty suc- 
cessive times at the close of the opera. On her de- 
parture from the theatre, all the performers of the 
orchestra waited at the door to render homage to 
her ; and she was conducted to her hotel amidst the 
acclamations of the public. 

During her stay at Naples, she received proposals 



128 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

from the managers of the Academie Royale and the 
Italian Opera at New York : and though the terms 
offered were on the most liberal scale, they were de- 
clined. She entered into negotiation with a society 
of Dilettanti, then forming at Naples, for the pur- 
pose of making such arrangements as would tend to 
confer increased splendour on opera performances. 

ENGAGEMENT AT MILAN. 

On leaving Naples, De Beriot and Madame Mali- 
bran proceeded to Bologna, giving several concerts 
on their way. Prom Bologna they repaired to 
Milan, where Madame Malibran had been impa- 
tiently looked for during several preceding seasons. 
This arrival there was an event which will never be 
forgotten by the Milanese, who felt such an earnest 
desire to see and hear her, that Duke Visconti, the 
Impresario of La Scala, was compelled to engage 
her. It was well known that the obstacles in the 
way of Madame Malibran's engagement rested with 
Duke Visconti alone, and whenever he showed him- 
self in his box at La Scala, he was received with 
such marks of public disapproval, that he found him- 
self in some sort forced to conclude an engagement 
with Madame Malibran. Indeed, an association 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 129 

had been formed for the purpose of opposing Duke 
Visconti. They proposed to take another theatre, 
and engage Madame Malibran : two agents were de- 
spatched to Bologna for that purpose, but Duke 
Visconti's agent made the first application, and con- 
cluded an engagement with Madame Malibran for 
a few performances. This brief engagement was 
the prelude to a contract for several years, which 
was signed shortly afterwards. 

THE PASTISTS. 

On Madame Malibran's arrival at Milan, the 
supporters of Madame Pasta, or, as they were 
termed, the Pastists, organized a sort of cabal 
against her, on the alleged ground that she had 
given proofs of vanity and pretension in selecting 
the character of Norma for her debut. In Norma, 
Madame Pasta's talent had shone with most con- 
spicuous lustre ; and Madame Malibran would fain 
have changed the piece selected for her debut, for 
she was hurt at the thought of offending Madame 
Pasta, towards whom she never cherished any 
other feelings than admiration and esteem. But 
unluckily all the arrangements for her appearance 
had been hurriedly made at Bologna, and it was 



130 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

impossible to alter them. Norma had been formally 
announced ; and in Italy a printed opera bill is re- 
garded as a solemn pledge between the people and 
the government ; it is considered inviolable, and is 
maintained with scrupulous exactitude. 

It may naturally be imagined that this little pre- 
liminary warfare between the friends of the prima 
donnas tended not a little to excite curiosity ; but, 
at the same time, the unfriendly feeling of one por- 
tion of the public necessarily augmented the risks 
and difficulties she had to surmount. Poor Maria ! 
she was fully aware of the critical position in which 
she stood; she knew that she would be judged 
severely by the sovereign public of Italy, and these 
thoughts left her not a moment's repose. The un- 
easiness she suffered can only be understood by the 
artist who has felt the anxiety of a debut, on which 
the maintenance of a high reputation depends. It 
is only mediocrity that nurses itself in the full confi- 
dence of success. The artist of real genius always 
feels the necessitv of increased exertion ; and on the 
day of her debut at Milan, Maria Malibran thought 
within herself, " This evening I must be sublime, 
otherwise the reputation I have carried as it were 
by chance, will all vanish in a moment." 



OP MADAME MALIERAN. 131 



DEBUT AT LA SCALA. 

On the day of Madame Malibran's debut at 
Milan, the pit was filled as early as two o'clock in 
the afternoon. 

When she entered her camerino to dress for her 
part, Madame Malibran was so overcome by her 
feelings that she burst into a flood of tears. 

Meanwhile, the hour for the commencement of 
the performance arrived. The buz of impatience 
which had for some time circulated among the Di- 
lettanti in the pit, changed to a tumult of approba- 
tion when the ritornella announced the entrance of 
Madame Malibran. The first tones of her voice 
produced a strong excitement. Throughout, the 
audience manifested their approbation only by a 
sort of murmur, indicative of their fear of losing a 
note or syllable which fell from the cantanta divina; 
but when she came to the terzetto Ah non tremar ! 
she was interrupted by a torrent of applause. It 
was called for a second time, and Madame Mali- 
bran repeated it with an accent and an expression 
which will never be effaced from the memory of 
the Milanese. 



132 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

HONOURS RENDERED TO MADAME MALIBRAN ON 
HER DEPARTURE FROM MILAN. 

The operatic annals of no country present any 
example of a triumph similar to that enjoyed by 
Madame Malibran, on the evening of her perform- 
ance at Milan. At the conclusion of the opera she 
was recalled no less than thirty times ; and each 
time wreaths, bouquets, trinkets, and sonnets, were 
thrown on the stage. When she returned home, 
she found the gardens of Visconti Palace, where 
she resided, brilliantly illuminated. A triumphal 
arch, with a complimentary inscription, was erected 
at the entrance of the principal avenue. Upwards 
of twenty thousand persons assembled round the 
palace, and the orchestra and chorus of the opera 
performed a cantata, composed for the occasion by 
Madame Panizza. Madame Malibran's feelings 
were quite overpowered by these marks of favour. 
She repeatedly went into her balcony, and by 
graceful and expressive gestures thanked her nu- 
merous admirers. 

VISIT TO LONDON IN 1834. 

Madame Malibran and De Beriot left Milan for 
Paris and Brussels, and from the latter place pro- 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 133 

ceeded to London, where they arrived in June, 
1834. The object of their visit to London was to 
assist at the concert of M. Manuel Garcia, the bro- 
ther of Madame Malibran. This concert took place 
at the residence of Mrs. Caruther, in Grafton Street. 

RETURN TO ITALY. 

After passing a few days in London, Madame 
Malibran and her husband returned to Italy, having 
engagements to fulfil in Sinigaglia, Lucca, Milan, 
and Naples. They travelled rapidly, and reached 
Sinigaglia on the 14th of July. Madame Malibran 
now enjoyed a colossal reputation throughout Italy. 
She was treated with the honour due to a princess. 
In every little town or village through which she 
passed, crowds pressed round her carriage to get a 
sight of her. 

Old Cardinal Albani was a rapturous admirer of 
the talent of Madame Malibran, and he used even 
to attend the opera rehearsals. 

DEPARTURE FOR LUCCA IN AUGUST, 1834. 

On the 11th of August, 1834, Madame Malibran 
left Sinigaglia for Lucca. She had now become 
the idol of Italy, and nothing was thought of or 

VOL. II. 12 



134 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

talked about, but the Cantanta Divina. The enthu- 
siasm she excited was such as can exist only among 
a people who, like the Italians, are deprived of com- 
mercial and political excitement, and to whom 
every species of occupation and amusement, save 
those derived from the fine arts,' is limited or pro- 
hibited. 

The Italians, whose political feelings and enthu- 
siasm are repressed by the yoke of a foreign domi- 
nation, turns to the charms of music and poetry for 
resource and consolation. 

At Lucca, Madame Malibran was received with 
the same furore as at Milan and Bologna. On the 
last evening of her performance, the people unhar- 
nessed the horses from her carriage, and drew her 
home in triumph. 

She afterwards returned to Milan, where she per- 
formed twelve evenings. On this occasion she en- 
tered into an engagement with Duke Visconti for 
about one hundred and eighty performances, at the 
rate of two thousand five hundred francs each. 

ACCIDENT AT NAPLES. 

Madame Malibran once more left Milan, and re- 
paired to Naples, where she concluded an engage- 



OP MADAME MALIBRAN. 135 

ment with the Operatic Society, which had just then 
been established in that city. Her performances at 
San Carlos were a renewed series of triumphs, and 
to describe them would only be a repetition of what 
has already been said. One circumstance, how- 
ever, which occurred during Madame Malibran's 
visit to Naples on this occasion, deserves to be no- 
ticed. During the festivities of the Carnival, as 
Madame Malibran was driving along the street of 
Toledo in an open carriage, her horses unfortu- 
nately took fright, and she was thrown out of the 
vehicle. By this accident she suffered a dislocation 
of the right wrist, and her performances were in 
consequence, for a few nights, suspended ; and when 
she again appeared she had her arm in a sling. It 
is a proof of her singular talent and address, that 
she so effectually concealed the disablement of her 
right arm, that scarcely any of the audience, who 
were not previously aware of her accident, per- 
ceived it. 

VISIT TO VENICE DEATH OF THE EMPEROR FRANCIS. 

On the 4th of March, 1835, the Neapolitan sea- 
son having closed, Madame Malibran and De Beriot 
proceeded to Venice. 



136 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

When they arrived at Bologna, the intelligence 
of the death of the Emperor Francis retarded for 
several weeks the six performances for which Ma- 
dame Malibran was engaged at Venice. 

As her gondola approached the city of the doges, 
bands of music announced her coming. Immense 
crowds of persons lined the quays. When Madame 
Malibran attempted to cross the Place of St. Mark, 
the crowd became so dense that she was induced to 
seek refuge in the church. But the church itself 
was speedily filled, and it was with difficulty that 
she could make her way through the crowded 
streets of Venice to her hotel. 

At Venice she played in Otello, Cenerentola, and 
Norma, and she concluded her performances by an 
act of benevolence. She played the Sonnambula 
for the benefit of a poor impresario, who on that 
occasion opened a theatre, which now bears the 
name of the Teatro Malibran. 

MADAME MALIBRAN's APPEARANCE IN INEZ DE CASTRO 

PRESENT FROM THE DUKE OF LUCCA. 

At the close of their engagements in Venice, 
Madame Malibran and De Beriot returned to Paris, 
and from thence proceeded to Brussels, where they 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 137 

remained a fortnight. They next visited London 
for the musical season of 1835. At its close they 
again departed for Italy. 

Madame Malibran appeared at Lucca as the 
heroine of Persiani's opera of Inez de Castro. The 
Duke of Lucca was so charmed by her performance 
of this character, that he presented to her a magni- 
ficent brooch set with fine pearls and brilliants, and 
in the letter which accompanied the gift, expressed 
not only admiration of her talent, but sincere esteem 
for her character. 

THE CHOLERA IN ITALY. 

Madame Malibran was in the midst of her 
triumphs when the cholera broke out ; first at Genoa, 
next at Leghorn, then at Florence. Terror spread 
rapidly. The theatres and all places of amusement 
were deserted, and cordons sanitaires were esta- 
blished on all points, except on the road to Carrara, 
which was less frequented than the rest. Madame 
Malibran was expected at Milan in fulfilment of her 
engagements ; she therefore formed the resolution of 
travelling by a path leading across the Alps, to avoid 
entering Genoa,, where the cholera was raging, and 

*2* 



138 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

where they would have been detained by a quaran- 
tine of twenty days. 

On arriving at Carrara, they hired twenty-five 
men, eight oxen, and six mules, to convey two car- 
riages across the Apennines. They advanced only 
nine miles in the space of two days, having to pass 
ravines, torrents, and pointed rocks, and sometimes 
to make their way through villages, whose narrow 
streets scarcely afforded sufficient space for a car- 
riage. They encountered indescribable difficulties. 

Madame Malibran rode on horseback a little in 
advance of the cavalcade ; and nothing could ex- 
ceed the courage and spirit with which she bore the 
perils and fatigues of the journey. They were es- 
corted by a civic guard, which constantly kept 
within a hundred paces of the carriages. They 
reached Milan in the beginning of September, 1835, 
having by their weary and perilous journey suc- 
ceeded in avoiding those cordons sanitaires. 

donizetti's maria stuardo. 

Madame Malibran appeared at Milan in Doni- 
zetti's opera of Maria Stuardo. This piece was 
prohibited after the third performance, on account 
of some political allusions, to which Madame Mali- 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 139 

bran imparted twofold effect by her emphatic manner 
of delivering them. 

During this visit to Milan, a celebrated Italian 
sculptor executed a marble bust of Madame Mali- 
bran. The artist was engaged upon it for several 
months, but he finally succeeded in producing a 
striking resemblance. This bust is now at Ixelles. 

MARRIAGE OF MADAME MALIBRAN AND DE BERIOT. 

In the spring they left Milan to return to Paris, 
where they were united in marriage on the 29th of 
March. The witnesses of the marriage ceremony, 
were the Marquis de Louvois, Baron Perignon, MM. 
Auber and Troupenas. The newly-married couple 
spent the evening at the residence of M. Troupenas, 
where a party was invited to meet them, consisting 
of the most distinguished musical professors and 
amateurs then in the French capital. Madame de 
Beriot sang the finale from the Sonnambula, with a 
degree of animation which was very naturally 
inspired by the increased happiness of her position. 
De Beriot, too, contributed not a little to the charms 
of the evening's entertainments by his exquisite per- 
formance of several of his favourite pieces. In short, 
this delightful concert, together with the happy event 



140 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

in honour of which it was given, will never be 
effaced from the recollection of those who were pre- 
sent at it. 

VISIT TO BRUSSELS SERENADES CONCERTS. 

On the day after their marriage, M. and Madame 
de Beriot left Paris for Brussels, where they spent 
several days in the bosom of their family. 

When they arrived at their villa at Ixelles, several 
serenades were performed in honour of them : one 
by the band of the regiment of Royal Guards, an- 
other by the orchestra of the Harmonic Society, and 
a third by the Vocal Society. All were eager to 
testify their feelings of satisfaction at the union of 
two persons who seemed perfectly formed to render 
each other happy. 

During their short stay at Brussels, M. and Ma- 
dame de Beriot devoted their talents to the service 
of humanity, by giving a concert for the benefit of 
the Polish refugees. There being no concert-room 
at Brussels sufficiently spacious for the purpose, the 
performance took place in the church of the Augus- 
tines, which was likewise much too small for the 
numbers who attended. 

Some evenings afterwards, in compliance with 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 141 

the public wish, they gave a concert at the great 
theatre. It was exceedingly crowded ; the public of 
Brussels being anxious, not only to enjoy the plea- 
sure of hearing their delightful performances, but 
also to mark their admiration of the generous aid 
they had rendered to the poor Polish exiles. They 
were greeted with the most enthusiastic plaudits, 
and were even escorted to their carriage amidst 
shouts of bravo! Such a feeling of excitement 
was never witnessed on any similar occasion in 
Brussels. 

SHORT VISIT TO LONDON MADAME MALIBRAN's FALL 

FROM HER HORSE CONSEQUENT ILLNESS. 

About the end of April, Madame Malibran and 
her husband again visited London, and returned to 
Brussels at the end of July. It was during that 
interval that Madame Malibran had the misfortune 
to fall from her horse. On her return to Brussels, 
Madame Malibran bore on her countenance the 
marks of the contusions she had received ; and the 
state of her health altogether, excited uneasiness in 
the minds of her friends. The only cause assigned 
by Madame Malibran for the contusions she had 
received was, that she had fallen down stairs, in con- 



142 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

sequence of her foot having become entangled in her 
riding-habit. 

Unfavourable symptoms soon began to show 
themselves. Her temper became irritable, and she 
was frequently melancholy. When roused from the 
fits of depression, her gayety seemed to be the re- 
sult of excitement rather than of cheerfulness. Her 
condition gave serious alarm to her family, whose 
fears were, however, somewhat allayed by the idea 
that her pregnancy might possibly be the cause of 
the alteration observable in her. Two medical pro- 
fessors, who were in attendance on her, concurred 
in the propriety of bleeding her. After the bleeding, 
she certainly became less excitable, and appeared 
to enjoy improved health. 

On the 12th of October Madame Malibran ac- 
companied her husband to Liege, where he was 
engaged to perform. Whilst Madame Malibran 
was listening to De Beriot's performance on this 
occasion, her feelings were moved in a degree 
scarcely to be expected, considering that she was 
in the constant habit of hearing him. 

A few days afterwards they gave another con- 
cert, at which Madame Malibran sang the romance 
of The Brigand, which she had just then com- 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 143 

posed. She sang it with such deep and impas- 
sioned expression, that at its conclusion the whole 
of the audience in the pit rose en masse to applaud 
her. 

PERFORMANCE AT AIX-LA-CHAPELLE. 

A deputation was sent by the inhabitants of Aix- 
la-Chapelle to request that Madame Malibran and 
De Beriot would perform in that city. There was 
only a German opera company at Aix-la-Chapelle ; 
but Madame Malibran made an innovation which 
was crowned with success. She sang her part in 
Bellini's Sonnambula in Italian, whilst the other per- 
formers sang their parts in German. Madame 
Malibran was never heard to greater advantage 
than on this occasion. Every time she appeared 
on the stage, she was saluted by a flourish from a 
military band stationed in the orchestra, and the 
same honour was rendered to De Beriot. 

The Sonnambula was performed a second time, 
in compliance with the urgent wish of the public. 
Madame Malibran was exceedingly ill and low- 
spirited on the evening of this second performance. 
It seemed as though she felt a presentiment that it 
was the close of her operatic triumphs. 



144 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

MADAME MALIBRAN'S RETURN TO IXELLES — HER EXTRA- 
ORDINARY PASSION FOR MUSICAL COMPOSITION DEPAR- 
TURE FOR THE MANCHESTER MUSIC MEETING. 

From Aix-la-Chapelle Madame Malibran and De 
Beriot returned to lxelles, where they remained two 
days. They then proceeded to Lille, where arrange- 
ments had been made for a concert ; on the morning 
after which they set off for Roissy, an estate about 
seven leagues from Paris, which they had recently 
purchased. On her arrival at Roissy, Madame 
Malibran's love for musical composition became 
almost a mania. She sat constantly at her piano, 
from which she could not be roused, either by the 
solicitations of her husband, or by the desire of 
seeing the beautiful domain of Roissy, which she 
now visited for the first time. Her head and her 
mind needed repose, and for this reason De Beriot 
had prevailed on her to pass a short time at Roissy. 
Her husband thought the pure air would speedily 
restore her to health ; but, instead of enjoying the 
country and seeking healthful recreation, she devoted 
herself assiduously to her musical compositions. At 
Roissy she composed her last romances. 

After a short time, Madame Malibran proceeded 
to England, to fulfil her engagement at the Man- 
chester music meeting. 



LETTERS. 



LETTERS. 



[The following are translations of selected parts 
of Madame Malibran's correspondence.] 

TO MONSIEUR LE BARON D . 

You must have been fully aware that I did not re- 
fuse you admittance to-day. You perhaps know I 
went straight from rehearsal to dine at mamma's, 
and from thence came home at half-past eight and 
retired to bed directly. I was so much amused, I 
was really fearful of drinking too deeply of the cup 
of pleasure at one time, 1 therefore was determined 
to mortify myself You see me in imagina- 
tion casting down my eyes You go doubt- 
lessly to-morrow (or rather I should say to-day) to 

the concert ? Who, I wonder, will come 

and ask me to have the goodness to sing ? 



148 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

Upon my word, if no one does me that favour, I 
shall coolly get up and go and place my- 
self at the piano and consent to sing in order to 

please the unanimous desire of myself [ 

What do you think of this plan, I think it's some- 
thing new. 

One thing is certain, my follies are nothing new 
to you : unfortunately you are as well accustomed 
to them. You, who are Mister Useful, do you be- 
lieve, that if I put on a dress, such as the one I wore 
with the cap, or if I — or else if ..... . Well, 

what do you think? 

You are a second Madame Rossi, as a critic of 
the toilette. Now d'ont advise me as Iago does 

Adieu, you may come in the guise of a 

letter, and see me this morning. 

M. F. Malibra*. 



TO THE SAME. 



Having to attend to a grand rehearsal to-day I 
cannot receive you at one. I must put it off till half- 
past three. You, I think, must be content with me. 
J am highly so with myself. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 149 

My whole being feels improved by the quiet life 
I have led for the last three days. Nothing has 
vexed or annoyed me. My voice is much fresher. 
I will not, however, go as far as to say that I have 
slept well. No ; I have been agitated all night. But 
what is this compared to eternity 1 I must, however, 
descend from Olympus, and I'll tell you why. I 
must go and dress for rehearsal. 

Madame de Merlin is very good to come and see 
me to-day. I shall receive her with open arms. 
I will not utter the slightest reproach, but load her 
with kindness. Such is my vengeance. You re- 
collect what La Cenerentola says, " E sara mia 
vendetta il lor perdona." 

If you were the audience you'd say " Bravo !" 

M. F. Malibran presents her affectionate compli- 
ments to the " Good Devil." 



TO THE SAME. 

Calais, 10th April. Ten o'clock at night. 

No power shall withhold me, no pain shall deter 
me ; in a word, nothing on earth shall prevent me 

from writing to my dear friend P 

13* 



150 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

Friend P , my excellent friend you must be fully 

conscious that if you were deceitful (which I am 
sure you are not) you would be the most dangerous 
person in the world, for you possess the most extra- 
ordinary powers of persuasion. You have a way 
of saying things which carries conviction with it ; 
every word which falls from you is implicitly believed 
by him or her to whom it is addressed. If a person, 
or rather I should say, if I had met with a person 
who had possessed your character, I should have 
become mad, raving mad, long ago. 

Let us turn to another subject. I like you: such 
is the first feeling which emanates from my heart 
when I think of you. 

I slept well all night, with my feet in Madame 

L 's lap, stretched out as comfortably as if I 

had been in bed. They tell me we shall have a 
fine day to-morrow for my voyage to Dover. 
Heaven grant it. 

Take great care of yourself; don't fatigue your- 
self too much; remember you are "indispensable" to 
your friends, and that to me you are absolutely ne- 
cessary ; one only meets twice, or rather I should 
say once, at most, a being like yourself; who can 
understand and sympathize, — who can feel for 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 151 

another, — who can put up with self-denial, and 
who can console and pour a balm into the agitated 
bosom of affliction. How often have I felt this and 

My sermon's done. 

Let me know all: you understand. Heaven 
knows whether you will decipher the nonsense I 
have scribbled. My arm is painful. I am going 
to bed. Let me know whether I am to execute 
an} 7 commissions for you. 

Have you forgotten any thing which I can do to 
serve you ? 

There is one thing certain, a letter will always 
find me if addreseed to me in London, where I 
shall remain for some time anxiously expecting to 
hear from you, and ever ready to prove how truly 
I am your devoted 

Maria. 



TO THE SAME. 

Calais, April 11th, 1830. 

I have not yet started ; the weather was so tem- 
pestuous I did not choose to risk my bones. To- 



152 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

morrow will perhaps be finer, but whether it is so 
or not, I shall not start, as I have promised to 
remain to sing at a charity subscription concert, on 
condition I should be allowed to go round and make 
a collection ; for this reason I trust no one will 
come without money in their pockets. The poor, 
I hope, will not lose by this arrangement. The 
delay is of no great consequence, as I am in no 
hurry, having nothing to do just yet in London. 



Calais, Monday. 

It is splendid weather, — just the weather for 
riding over the earth, or over the sea. But to go 
to Dover : bah ! this evening the concert is to take 
place. We shall have a good laugh. I'll write to 
you all about it. The president is coming in due 
form to thank me for my proposed exertions. 

Last night we had at the hotel, M , the very 

questionable pleasure of hearing a singer. I beg 
her pardon, a cantatrice! (I should say of the 
streets,) who was brought to the hotel by some 
English people for the purpose of regaling their ears 
with sweet music. Their door was just opposite to 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 153 

mine. Two ladies, who had come expressly to 
hear her, were shown into my room by mistake. 
So I instantly sat down to the piano and played the 
accompaniment to the song which the beautiful 
siren was at that moment singing ; the effect was 
very odd. To her it seemed like a distant echo, 
to me it appeared like the squalling of a tortured 
cat. This brought to my recollection certain scenes 
of old, which contrasted strangely in my mind's eye. 
Adieu till the evening, when I will again take up my 
pen, and tell you every thing that can possibly in- 
terest you. 

I promised to write. Well, I must inform you, 
in the first place, that my name had such an effect 
upon the Calaisians, that the directors of the pro- 
posed subscription concert found it would be advan- 
tageous to admit all who chose to come ; so at two 
o'clock to-day it was announced that a " Public 
concert for the benefit of the poor w r ould take place 
this evening at the theatre, when a collection would 
be made by Madame Malibran." 

Poor creatures ! I understand they have suffered 
dreadfully. I am delighted to think I have the 
power of doing them good. Good-by, till after the 
concert. 



154 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

I have just come in — you would have been de- 
lighted to see my reception. The good people of 
this place are in ecstacies. At eight o'clock I was 
at my post. Extraordinary to say, that though the 
concert was only announced publicly at two o'clock, 
I succeeded in collecting three hundred and eighty- 
seven francs, over and above what was taken at the 
doors — an enormous sum considering all things. 

After the first act I went round. As soon as I had 
done this the mayor came on the stage, and having 
made really a very good speech before the whole 
audience, he crowned me with a wreath of flowers 
— gave me a bouquet — delivered a second compli- 
mentary address, and ended by reading out loud 
some verses which had been written in my honour. 
After all this, the people began to applaud in the 
most vociferous manner for several minutes, and 
invoked all sorts of blessings on my head. So en- 
thusiastic were they, that they cheered me all the 
way home. Adieu, if it is not fine I shall not em- 
bark to-morrow. 

Tuesday morning. 

I don't start to-day, the weather is still too stormy. 
They are, however, determined I shall not find my 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 155 

sojourn dull. I am asked to a soiree at M. Pigault 
de Beaupres (cousin to Pigault-le-Brun) this evening. 
We shall have dancing, in which I hope to join. I 
promise you not to fatigue myself, and to return 

home just as early as if I expected to meet 

You see I don't forget your friends. I am dying to 
arrive in London, where I expect to find letters 
from you. I hope to go by to-morrow's mail 
packet-boat. I close my letter, having nothing but 
the old story to tell you. But stay — I will write no 
more stuff. 

Good-by, 

My best, my sincerest friend. 



TO THE SAME. 

Bristol, on my way to Exeter. 

We start to-morrow morning for Exeter, my dear 
M. D., where I am engaged for eight concerts, in- 
cluding those which I am to give on my way back, 
at Bath and Bristol. On the 29th we shall be en 
route for Paris ; on the 26th we shall be at Calais. 
Pray send me a letter addressed " Hotel Meurice," 
wherein (after saying all those pretty little things 



156 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

you so well understand) you must tell me the name 
of the street, and the number of the house, &c. &c, 
that you have had the goodness to take for us. If 
you have not yet secured one, pray do so directly, 

and if it's just the same. Well then, 

to finish that which I have not' commenced, I will 
terminate this scrawl by telling you you are a sad 
wretch for not answering my letters. I have writ- 
ten to you from Gloucester, Chester, and from all 
corners of the earth ; but it appears this year is 
not favourable to those who dedicate themselves to 
literature, to the fine arts, or to those who, like 
myself, give themselves up in the most fervent man- 
ner to epistolary correspondence .... Hem ! ! ! 
no nonsense. Enough of chit-chat. I hope M. 
Laurent will be kind to me, and make up for all the 
bad conduct of him to whom I shall in future say, 
& la ported Not so bad from one unnaccustomed 
to punning. Do you know what annoys me when 
I come to the conclusion of my epistles ! It is that 
I am forced to sign the name of Malibran at the 
end of a string of other nonsense. 

* Meant as a pun on the name of La Porte. 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 157 



TO THE SAME. 

We have followed the current, that is to say, we 
have arrived one day sooner than we meant; to 
account for this, I must tell you, we had a remark- 
ably short passage, and a delightful one. The tide 

was favourable, the wind was fair, the In 

short, in consequence of all these circumstances, we 
start by the malle-poste to-morrow, Saturday, the 
24th, and shall arrive on Monday, the 26th ; — do 
you hear that 1 Open your great little eyes. Mum. 
I wish to make my first appearance in the Gazza. 
What do you say to that? My heart jumps with 
joy at the idea of again seeing the dear brat. I 
have been as sick as a dog in spite of the favoura- 
ble passage we have had. I am delighted with the 
lodgings. Bravo ! I should like to have my sister 
with me. I will tell you hereafter — how and when 1 
Don't say a word about it. Will you accept the 
humble prostrations of the most happy but foolish 
Mimiband 1 I wish to be thus called in future when- 
ever I am in good spirits. I try to make you feel 
so, in thus writing to you intelligibly, for not a single 
word can I make out in vour letters. Dixit 

VOL, II. 14 



158 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

Till presently — until Monday. 

What joy it will be to meet after such a long ab 

sence ! 

M. F. Malibran. 



MADAME GARCIA TO THE SAME. 

Paris, May 1st. 

Sir, 

Persuaded that Maria attends to every thing you 
tell her, I venture to beg of you to suggest to her 
that she ought to reserve her strength and spirits 
for the theatre, and that she ought not to accept 
dinner invitations. You are aware Lalande has 
not been successful, and consequently Maria will 
have to make her appearance fifteen days earlier 
than she originally anticipated. She will probably 
be called upon to sing much oftener than she has 
stipulated for in her engagement. If she therefore 
gives herself up wholly to her profession, this will 
be a golden year to her; but if she insists on going 
about and exerting herself as she did in Paris, she 
will throw away the gifts of fortune. I have taken 
the liberty of enclosing a letter for my son, because 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 159 

I do not wish them to know that Manuel was one 
of the heroes, and on your return I shall repay you 
the expense I put you to for postage, by showing 
you gratuitously a Calvary I am now dressing out, 
and for each sight of which I should otherwise 
charge you twopence. It is really very pretty, 
and I do not doubt you will desire to see it daily, 
so you see the saving to you will be considerable. 
Don't however trouble yourself about it. I shall 
keep you a place in the first tier. 

I wish you would also tell Maria to ask the same 
sum for singing at the meetings which Pasta de- 
manded ; the exact amount she can easily find out. 

Adieu, my dear baron ; I pray you to excuse my 
little bad French. You may readily suppose I am 
very dull now that both my children have left me, 
otherwise I should more gaily assure you how truly 
I am your very obedient servant, 

J. S. Garcia. 



FROM MADAME MALIBRAN TO THE SAME. 

10th of May. 
Certainly, my dear friend, negligence has not 
been the cause of my not writing often. No : you 



160 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

know how well I like you, and how anxious I am 
to prove it, therefore I do not fear you will accuse 
me of forgetting you. Lalande having failed, I am 
up to my neck in business. A concert in the morn- 
ing, two or three more in the evening, and the same 
thing over again the next day, not even excepting 
the nights I sing at the opera. I never enjoyed 
better health. I am now quite strong. My voice 
as clear in the morning as in the afternoon ; it is 
never hoarse or husky. Madame Levestre takes 
as much care of me as if I were her own child. I 
ought to thank God and the good Madame Levestre 
for the care One takes of me invisibly, and the 
visible improvement of my health under the tender 
care of the other. On Wednesday I go to Bath, 
after the concert. I shall arrive on Thursday, at 
nine a. m., and sing two pieces. At one o'clock I 
start for Bristol, where I shall arrive in less than an 
hour : there I play the third act of Otello with Don- 
zelli. I pocket one hundred and fifty guineas, and 
arrive in London next morning. Is not that de- 
lightful, "very delightful!" I have received a letter 

from the charming Madame D- ; she asks me 

after you. I have a concert to attend this morning. 
I piny the first act of II Matrimonio, and the whole 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 161 

of Tancredi, this evening, for the benefit of ... . 
Lablache is quite the rage. I send you this short 
letter to convince you I am well, and embrace you 
as I like you. 

Maria. 



to the same. 
Sidney's Hotel, Bath, August, 11. 

Yes! I admit it. I have not wrote to you for 
two months, and I'll tell you why. First of all, I 
must inform you, I never wrote so much in all my 
life as I have done since you left us. I am very 
idle. I detest writing, and it requires all my best 
resolution to fulfil my promise of addressing you 
often. For some time I did so regularly, but when 
you had left Toulon and reached Algiers, I thought 
there was little use in writing until you returned. 
This reason, added to my proverbial laziness, took 
away all desire to address you ; but as a kind of 
set-off, in a fit of remorse, I desired Madame 
Levestre to mention me in all her letters to you. I 
have been very near visiting the resting-place of 

14* 



162 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

my ancestors ; but Fate whispered, " She is kind — 
she is unfortunate. She shall live. Vivat !" She 
turned my bed round, and when Death came to take 
me by the head, he found to his great astonishment 
he was at my feet. Thus I was spared from making 
a journey to one of the extremities of the other 
w r orld. 

I am now quite w r ell. Bath agrees with me. I 
remain until the 25th of August. Thanks to my 

excellent and sincere friend, Dr. B , I am in a 

completely restored state of health. I now con- 
tinually display, as you say, the pink and white in 
my complexion. You must love this man who has 
saved my life, as much by skill and promptitude, as 
by fatherly kindness. You ought to like him, for 
he resembles you. I have written to-day a letter of 
eight pages to Monsieur de Lamartine. The plea- 
sure of addressing him has led me on, perhaps, to 
express myself at too great a length ; but he is indul- 
gent, and will pardon the outpourings of a young 
heart anxious to prove its sincerity. My wrist 
aches with writing so much. So adieu, my dear 
friend. I wrote to Manuel before he started from 
Paris, to which he might have answered before he 
left. Pray bring me some pretty little bijou, such as 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 163 

the head of a Bedouin Arab, or other pretty toy, to 
ornament my Malibranian seigniory. 



TO THE SAME. 

Birmingham, October 1st, 1830. 

My dear Friend, 

When I think that in twenty-four days more I 
shall revisit my noble country, my heart leaps with 
joy. Fancy tells me I shall see the faces of French- 
men changed ; I picture to myself their countenances 
beaming with liberty, their eyes lit up by a holy fire 
which bespeaks a glorious conviction of having 
done a good deed. All this seems clearer in my 
imagination than on paper, weak Mercury of my 
thoughts. Dear friend, you must procure me a 

house 

I have become more intrepid than ever since France 
has once more replaced the old flowers, long dried 
in the attic, by promising buds of a sprouting no- 
bility. They tell me all is not finished. I would 
willingly lose one arm in such a cause, and fancy I 
had gained two in having thus assisted in supporting 



164 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

the laws of nature. I begin to warm on the subject; 
so adieu. Enough of gossip. 

Maria. 



TO THE SAME. ' 

This 7th of March, two o'clock in the morning. 

How can I sufficiently acknowledge your good- 
ness? — How few words to express to you my 
gratitude for your kindness. Don't mistake my 
meaning. It is not because you have taken me to 
ride with you on horseback. It is because you 
exert yourself with fervour to obtain for me every 
pleasure I can desire. It is for this goodness I 
must ever be your silent debtor, for I am unequal 
to speak my thanks, much less write them. You 
have no idea how sincerely joyed I am in seeing 
you happy. I am even more anxious for your 
welfare than my own; for your first happiness 
consists in seeing me content, and my mind is a 
reflection of your own. Am I not right ? I was 
anxious to repay you for your goodness, and please 
myself at the same time ; so I came home early 
from M. de la Buillerie's concert, hoping to have a 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 165 

chat with you I found no one, 

Heaven knows what life you had to enable you to 

get through so much business 

Bad news ! Is it that I am right 

in supposing your headache proceeds from .... 

Go and see your patron, and have a long chat 
with him. Yes, without doubt ...... come 

and see me during my dinner-time. 

Your sincere friend, 
Maria. 



TO THE SAME. 

Never mind you are a good devil; don't think 
I am going, like yourself, to fill my letter with com- 
pliments. My flattery is reduced to two words. 
You are a good devil, and a kind busy-body, (with 
one's feelings,) by w 7 ay of parenthesis. Truth 
compels me to admit that you have a good heart, 
at least so I believe. That's all. I reduce all I 
feel to a single jam lozenge, that is to say, to a 
single word. You are sincere and devoted. 
According to my ideas they are the most grateful 
epithets I can apply to you, and you merit them. 



1G6 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

1 give you permission ! ! ! to come for a moment 
at three o'clock. 

Adieu, they are waiting for me. 

Maria. 



TO MONSIEUR LOUIS VIARDOT. 

Rome, June 11th, 1832. 

It is a fate which all must look forward to, and r 
when it arrives, endure with philosophy. In so 
short a time to see so many persons carried off. 
and amongst others our best friend and my father 

. I only learned this dreadful misfortune at 

three o'clock this afternoon, thanks to the French 
ambassadress, who gave me the day before yester- 
day the newspapers containing an account of the 
counter-revolution. To-day she broke the unfortu- 
nate news to Charles in private. I soon discovered 
it ; they vainly tried to hide it from me. 

My poor friend ! what anguish I feel ! Misery 
like a poniard stabs me a thousand times in a 
single instant. I still refuse to believe it till I hear 
it officially confirmed. I am writing to my mother, 



OF MADAME MALIBRAIV. 167 

but do not dare to allude to the subject. You are 
aware I never answered the letter, which neither 
you nor I could believe came from her; nevertheless 
I have had my pen in my hand a thousand times. 
I could no longer resist writing to ask after them, 
and since yesterday, when I learned the dreadful 
scenes that are acting in Paris just now, my in- 
quietude has increased a thousand fold. I pictured 
to myself that my poor father was mixed up in 
these horrors, and was just about to address him, 
when I was told the dreadful news. 

At all events, let me know all about yourself and 
Leon. Tell us (for we have not heard from you for 
two months) whether you have not been in danger. 
If the cholera or the revolution have been able to 

carry off the other Tell me I have not 

to deplore the loss of a father. Louis, for the last 
two months, I have not received one letter from 

Madame L ; not a single line. Make her write 

to me, addressed No. 45, Piazza della Minerva. I 
impatiently wait to hear from you, I am in a state 
bordering on distraction, I anticipate a line from you 
to soothe my agonies. Unfortunately I cannot get 
off an engagement I have made here to play three 
times a week for one month ; that is, twelve per- 



168 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

formances. The manager has expended a good deal 
on new scenery and dresses, and augmented his 
company to support me. You know my heart. Do 
not blame me. The day after St. Peter's I appear 
in Otello. The singers are all bad. Embrace for 

me my mother, my brother, an.d . It is not 

possible — the newspapers must have raised a false 
report. 

Your sincere friend. 



TO COUNSELLOR PAROLA. 

Milan. 
My dear Counsellor, 

I write, although I am by no means sure that the 
post is starting, but I can no longer refrain from 
letting you know we are all well. With our usual 
rapidity, we arrived at Modena by nine o'clock, in 
time to go and see the Sonnambula, with our friend 
the Marchioness Carandini ; after the theatre w 7 e 
immediately went to bed. On Tuesday we flew off 
post, and arrived in Bologna by one o'clock : we 
were here also in time to see Norma. I came from 



OF MADAME MALTBRAN. 169 

it more convinced than ever, that the report of this 
opera being unsuccessful (which we heard in Milan) 
was false. Pasta was received with great applause. 
After the cavatina (which she certainly sang most 
wonderfully) she was called for Jive times. After 
the trio twice, and warmly greeted whenever she ap- 
peared. Twice after the duet in the second act, and 
that with Donzelli was also encored. 

At the end of the performance she had to come 
forward twice. You see by these details, which are 
strictly true, how malicious were the reports of 
Pasta's having failed to please. Whenever they 
again tell you this, refer to my letter, and believe my 
version to be the true one. Between the acts, I went 
round to see Pasta, who received me most gra- 
ciously. She asked me after the Duke and Duchess, 
and thanked me in the name of the inhabitants of 
Milan for having favoured them by singing there. 
It is impossible to be more amiable than Pasta. I 
therefore beg of you to contradict, on my authority, 
those who say she has been unsuccessful, and tell 
them of the triumph (in my presence) she gained. 

I pray you. my dear counsellor, to present our 
compliments to the good Duchess, to the Duke, and 

VOL. II. 15 



170 MEMOIRS AND LETTERS 

to the amiable Baroness Battaglia, about whom I 
had a long chat with the Princess Hercolani. 

A thousand remembrances to your wife, a thou- 
sand kisses to your children, and a shake of the 
hand for yourself, from 

Your affectionate, 

M. Malibran. 



TO BARON PERIGNON. 

Milan, Dec. 13th, 1835. 

Amiable Sir — dear Judge, 

You have made my mouth w r ater by speaking to 
me of playing in Paris. It is true, they have made 
me an offer (through our friend Troupitenas) to ap- 
pear twelv^ times in the month of April next. You 
are not perhaps aware that by the end of March I 
shall have gone through sixty-five performances 
since the 15th of September; and that all I can 
snatch for pleasure or repose is a single month, in- 
cluding the time I must spend in travelling. That I 
have to go through a London season, which is the 
most fatiguing of all : that I have to study two new 



OF MADAME MALIBRAN. 171 

operas in English, and refresh my memory in two 
more. Certainly, when I reappear in Paris, I should 
like to do so fresh and well, and not jaded by two 
fatiguing seasons at Milan, and a journey across ice- 
clad mountains, with heaps of snow, which threaten 
avalanches at every moment ; and obstacles which, 
together with the wretched posting, render the un- 
dertaking tedious and wearying, not to speak of the 
amiable brigands of whom they recount each day 
some charming exploit, some interesting murder. 

No ! the dear Parisians shall only hear me when 
I shall have had a full month's repose to enjoy the 
anticipation of again appearing before them. A 
whole month dedicated to a single fear — the fear 
of not pleasing them as much as formerly. 

Am I not right 1 do you not agree with me 1 I 
am grateful to the rumour which spoke of my being 
engaged, since it procured me the pleasure of re- 
ceiving a letter from you. Try and find out some 
news as an excuse for a much longer letter. Tell 
me about Madame — — , tell her 1 love her with all 
my heart, and make her add a little " I love you," 
at the bottom of your next. 

Charles would kiss her beautiful hands if she 
would allow him. Will you undertake this com- 



172 MEMOIRS, ETC. 

mission for him, and accept our affectionate com- 
pliments. 

I am bold to say that in me you have a true and 
grateful friend. 

Maria Garcia. 



THE PROGRESS 



OF THE 



ENGLISH OPERA. 



THE 



PROGRESS OF THE ENGLISH OPERA, 



WITH NOTICES OP 



MALIBRANS PERFORMANCES ON THE ENGLISH STAGE. 



The age of Elizabeth must be referred to as that 
in which dramatic music in England was first es- 
tablished as a public entertainment. The plays of 
the time, especially those of Shakspeare, abound 
with instances of the introduction, not only of 
songs, duets, and other harmonized pieces of vocal 
music, but of descriptive music for instruments. 
The masques, however, must be recorded as the 
first step in this country to the opera. These were 
produced for the amusement of the court; and 



176 THE PROGRESS OF 

although occasionally resorted to many years pre- 
viously, never flourished to such an extent as when 
Ben Jonson enriched them with his genius and 
scholarship. This prolific writer furnished thirty- 
one of these productions, besides half a dozen enter- 
tainments of a similar character. Several of these 
were performed by the chief nobility of both sexes 
at the court of James I. and Charles L, the queen 
and her ladies in more than one instance taking the 
principal characters. That of " The Vision of De- 
light," presented at court in Christmas 1617, was 
the first attempt at a regular opera ; it being written 
in recitative, with occasional songs, dances, and 
choruses. As some idea of this early performance 
may be interesting, we copy its commencement. 



The Scene — A street, in perspective of fair buildings dis- 
covered. 

Delight is seen to come as afar off, accompanied with Grace, 
Love, Harmony, Revel, Sport, Laughter, and followed by 
Wonder. 

9 

Stilo — Recitativo. 

Delight. Let us play and dance and sing, 
Let us now turn every sort 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 177 

Of the pleasures of the spring 

To the graces of a court, 
From air, from cloud, from dreams, from toys, 
To sounds, to sense, to love, to joys; 
Let your shows be new as strange, 

Let them oft and sweetly vary ; 
Let them haste so to their change, 

As the seers may not tarry. 
• Too long t'expect the pleasing'st sight, 

Doth take away from the delight. 

[Here the first Anti-masque entered. A she-monster de- 
livered of six Burratines? that dance with six Panta- 
loons ; which done, 

Yet hear what your Delight doth pray \ 
All sour and sullen looks away, 
That are the servants of the day ; 
Our sports are of the humorous Night 
Who feeds the stars that give her light, 
And useth than her wont more bright, 
To help The Vision of Delight. 

[Night rises slowly, and takes her chariot bespangled 
with stars. 

See, see, her sceptre and her crown 
Are all of flame, and from her gown 
A train of light comes waving down. 
This night, in dew she will not steep 

* Burlesque female characters clothed in a peculiar stuff of 
that name. 



178 THE PROGRESS OF 

The brain, nor lock the sense in sleep ; 
But all awake with phantoms keep, 
And those to make delight more deep. 

[By this time the night and moon being both risen, 
Night hovering over the place, sung. 

Night Break, Phant'sie, from thy cave of cloud, # 

And spread thy purple wings ; 
Now all thy figures are allowed, 

And various shapes of things ; 
Create of airy forms a stream, 
It must have blood, and nought of phlegm, 
And though it be a waking dream ; 
Chorus. Yet let it like an odour rise 

To all the senses here, 
And fall like sleep upon their eyes, 

Or music in their ear." 

This is the first example of an English libretto, 
and, undoubtedly, the best. All Ben's predecessors 
put together could not have produced the genuine 
poetry of some of the lines we have just quoted. 
But this is a small portion only of the masque, the 
dramatic character and the machinery of which are 
still unrivalled by modern opera writers. It was 
followed, on Saturday, February 22d, by another on 
a similar plan, entitled " A masque presented in the 
house of the Right Honourable the Lord Hay, by 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 179 

divers of noble quality his friends, for the entertain- 
ment of Monsieur le Baron de Tour, Extraordinary 
Ambassador for the French King ;" and by several 
others. The scenes and machinery were usually 
the work of Inigo Jones, the architect : and when a 
professional singer was employed, " that most ex- 
cellent tenor voice and exact singer, (her Majesty's 
servant, Master Jo. Allen,)" as Ben Jonson styles 
him in the " Masque of Queens," was resorted to. 
The dances were supplied by Master Thomas Giles, 
and Master Heme; and the music (the instruments 
being principally cornets and violins) was composed 
and directed by Alphonso Ferrabosco the younger : 
a musician of considerable celebrity at this period, 
but of whose works we know scarcely any thing. 
Ben, however, has taken care his fame should not 
speedily decay, for in one of his epigrams he men- 
tions him in these terms : — 

" To urge, my loved Alphonso, that bold fame 
Of building towns, and making wild beasts tame, 
Which music had, or speak her own effects, 
That she removeth cares, sadness ejects, 
Declineth anger, persuades clemency, 
Doth sweeten mirth, and heighten piety, 
And is to a body, often ill inclined, 
No less a sovereign cure than to the mind ; 



180 THE PROGRESS OF 

T' allege, that greatest men were not ashamed, 
Of old, even by her practice to be famed, 
To say indeed she were the soul of heaven, 
That the eighth sphere, no less than planets seven, 
Moved by her order, and the ninth more high, 
Including all, were thence called harmony : 
I yet had uttered nothing on thy part, 
When these were but the praises of the art: 
But when I have said, the proofs of all these be 
Shed in thy songs ; 'tis true : but short of thee." 



Vocal music was, from the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth to this period, very extensively cultivated. 
Compositions written for the service of the church 
exhibited a high degree of merit, especially those of 
Dr. John Bull ; whilst in secular productions, such as 
madrigals and other " part-songs," as they were 
then styled, the age can boast of the genius of 
Wilbye, Weelkes, Cobbold, and Dowland, of whom 
the latter has had the advantage of being immor- 
talized by the pen of Shakspeare. But in masques 
only can we trace any example of operatic music, 
and must advance to the year 1633 before we meet 
another effort worthy of being mentioned ; such is 
Milton's splendid masque of " Comus," the music of 
which was produced by Henry Lawes. This skilful 
musician may boast of the honour of having had his 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 181 

merits chronicled in verse by two of the most 
distinguished poets of the period in which he 
nourished. Milton alludes to him in one of his 
sonnets, as 

" Harry, whose tuneful and well-measured song !" 

and Waller, whose verses Lawes also set to music, 
addresses him in these words : 



44 Let those who only warble song, 
And gargle in their throat a song, 
Content themselves with Ut, Re, Me; 
Let words of sense be set by thee." 



The third line of this verse alludes to the Italian 
names of the octave, then coming into fashion. 
The masque of " Comus," as far as we are enabled 
to judge by what has been preserved of the music, 
was not set in " Stilo Recitativo," as Ben Jonson 
calls it. The celebrated Miss Brent, the original 
Mandane in Arne's Axtaxerxes, (who married 
Pinto the violin player,) when she was seventy 
years of age played in this piece for a benefit at 
Covent Garden Theatre in 1785, and delighted her 

VOL. II. 16 



182 THE PROGRESS OF 

audience by her style of singing Arne's music to 
some of its songs. But one of the greatest English 
operatic musicians of the seventeenth century was 
Matthew Locke, whose music to the lyric portion 
of Shakspeare's " Macbeth," after the lapse of 
nearly two hundred years since- it was composed, 
excites the admiration of every genuine connois- 
seur. 

During the Protectorate, the Puritans closed the 
theatre ; but although plays were prohibited as the 
inventions of Satan, yet it was evident the sturdy 
Roundheads were not insensible to the charms of 
dramatic music, for Sir William D'Avenant, in 
1656, obtained a license to open Rutland House, in 
Charterhouse Square, for the performance of operas 
under the title of "Entertainments in declamation 
and music, after the manner of the ancients." Un- 
doubtedly many genuine plays were smuggled into 
representation under this title, but to much music, 
equally genuine, it also afforded an introduction, 
particularly that of Locke to Shadwell's " Psyche," 
produced in 1675; and that of Banister to Dr. 
D'Avenant's opera of " Circe," which was brought 
out some years later. 

From these we at once proceed to a notice of 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 183 

their gifted contemporary, Henry Purcell. Although 
this distinguished musician contributed very largely 
to church music, his labours for the theatre were 
neither few nor unimportant. He had carefully 
studied the most famous masters of the Italian 
school, whose works were then beginning to be 
favourably known in England ; and of them, in a 
preface to his twelve sonatas for two violins, and a 
bass for the organ or harpsichord, he says — " He 
has faithfully endeavoured a just imitation of the 
most famed Italian masters, principally to bring the 
seriousness and gravity of that sort of music into 
vogue and reputation among our countrymen, whose 
humour 'tis time now should begin to loathe the levity 
and balladry of our neighbours." 

His introduction to the stage w 7 as of rather a sin- 
gular character. It appears that a dancing-master 
of considerable repute, Josiah Priest, who invented 
dances for the theatre, got Tate to write a little dra- 
matic piece called " Dido and iEneas," to be played 
by his pupils ; and then asked Purcell, who had 
scarcely reached his nineteenth year, to supply the 
music to it. This was done, and with such effect 
that the audience by whom it was heard were asto- 
nished at the genius it exhibited. It was talked of 



184 THE PROGRESS OF 

— the managers of one of the principal theatres 
came to hear it, and the result was the composer's 
speedy employment at the playhouse. In the course 
of his brilliant career Purcell composed the music 
to Nathaniel Lee's " Theodosius, or the Force 
of Love" — to Dryden's " King Arthur" — to Better- 
ton's alteration of Beaumont and Fletcher's " Dio- 
cletian, or the Prophetess" — to the " Fairy Queen," 
altered from Shakspeare's " Midsummer Night's 
Dream" — to " Timon of Athens," " the Libertine," 
" the Tempest," as altered by Dryden ; and to 
D'Urfey's " Don Quixote ;" besides writing over- 
tures and airs in the comedies of " the Indian 
Queen," and " the Married Beau," written by 
Crowne ; " the Old Bachelor," " Amphytrion," " the 
Double Dealer," and " Virtuous Wife ;" in the tra- 
gedies of " tha Princess of Persia," by Elkanah 
Settle; "the Gordian Knot Untied," " Ahdelazor, 
or the Moor's Revenge," from the pen of Aphara 
Behn ; and in the " Bonduca" of Beaumont and 
Fletcher. The last is distinguished by possessing 
Purcelli's still popular " Britons strike home," and 
his spirited quartette, " To arms !" 

The productions of this composer are exceedingly 
numerous, both vocal and instrumental; and are 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 185 

equally various. At the head of his sacred music 
stands his glorious " Te Deum," and " Jubilate ;" 
his songs and duets were the study of musicians 
for a long period after his death, which took place 
at the early age of thirty-seven years ; and even 
at the present day there are admirers of his genius, 
who believe with Dryden, that 



11 Sometimes a hero in an age appears, 
But scarce a Purcell in a thousand years." 



The same celebrated poet, in his ode on the death 
of Purcell, set to music with equal felicity by Dr. 
Blow, says — 

" The heavenly choir, who heard his notes from high, 
Let down the scale of music from the sky ; 
They handed him along: 
And all the way he taught, and all the way they sung." 

Some idea of him mav also be drawn from the 
following humorous rebus in Latin metre, com- 
posed on his name, by a person of the name of 
Tomlinson. 

" Galli marita, par tritico seges, 
Prsenomen est ejus, dat chromati leges ; 

16* 



186 THE PROGRESS OF 

Intrat cognomen blanditiis Cati, 
Exit eremi in iEdibus stati, 
Expertum effectum omnes admirentur. 
Quid merent Poetae 1 ut bene calcenter." 

The translation of it here given, an indifferent 
one by the way, was set to music as a catch by 
Lenton. 



"A mate to a cock, and corn tall as wheat, 
Is his christian name who in musick's compleat ; 
His surname begins with the grace of a cat, 
And concludes with the house of a hermit ; note that. 
His skill and performance each auditor wins, 
But the poet deserves a good kick on his shins." 



Purcell's productions show the great progress 
that had been made in England in operatic music 
since the commencement of the century, but the 
study of the musical art in all its principal branches 
had also been making important advances. That 
period boasts of the works of Gibbons, Blow, and 
of many other English composers of less note. 
Instrumental music was also much cultivated. The 
virginals gave place to the organ and harpsichord, 
for which excellent works were written by the 
musicians we have named. The lute was now sup- 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 187 

planted by the viol, but a composer who liked not 
the latter instrument set the following ridiculous de- 
scription of it as a round. 



" Of all the instruments that are, 
None with the viol can compare ; 
Mark how the strings their order keep, 
With a whet, whet, whet, and a sweep, sweep, sweep; 
Bat above all, this abounds 
With a zingle, zingle, zing, and a zit, zan, zounds." 



The viol and the harpsichord were the favourite 
instruments of the polished gentleman and lady of 
that period, and many individuals among the higher 
classes of society distinguished themselves by their 
proficiency upon them. Part singing too was an 
equally fashionable accomplishment, and was heard 
in madrigals, rounds, catches, and every species of 
harmony for two or more voices, then practised. 
The principal public singers were Mr. James Bowen, 
Mr. Harris, Mr. Freeman, Mr. Pate, Mr. Damascene, 
Mr. Woodson, M>- Turner, and Mr. Bouchier; Mrs. 
Mary Davis, Miss Shore, (afterwards Mrs. Cibber,) 
Mrs. Cross, Miss Champion, and Mrs. Ann Brace- 
girdle. Foreign singers, however, began now to 
make their appearance, and were generally heard 



188 THE PROGRESS OF . 

between the acts of some popular play. They also 
gave concerts, and in a short period became so 
fashionable, that as has been stated, in the Introduc- 
tion to the first volume, an attempt was made by 
their patronesses, at the commencement of the 
eighteenth century, to establish an Italian Opera. 
" The Italian manner" quickly became the model of 
all the English operatic composers, till the ap- 
pearance of Gay's admirable burlesque of it in 
1728, "The Beggars' Opera," the beautiful music 
of which was selected and arranged by Dr. Pepusch, 
a composer of considerable talent, evidences of 
which he has left us also in his masques of " Venus 
and Adonis," and the " Death of Dido," in his can- 
tatas, and in his " Treatise on Harmony." 

" The Beggars' Opera," which was brought out 
at Rich's theatre in Lincoln-inn Fields, met with the 
most decided success: it ran sixty consecutive 
nights, and continued to be repeated with increased 
gratification. In 1777, Linley enriched its instru- 
mentation with considerable skill, particularly in the 
employment of the oboe, French horns, and cla- 
rionets. The same year brought forward a pupil of 
Dr. Arne as Captain Macheath, who afterwards 
became the wife of Dr. Kennedy, and was one of 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 



189 



the most celebrated singers of her time. On this 
occasion she acquitted herself very creditably, and 
played the highwayman with effect equal to that 
created by her feminine successors in the same cha- 
racter. Mrs. Billington has been unrivalled in her 
personation of Polly, which she performed in 1790. 

In 1797, this favourite entertainment was repeated 
with Incledon as Captain Macheath, who sung ex- 
quisitely with Madame Mara as Polly, in the music 
of which she was only excelled by Mrs. Billington, 
and Mrs. Martyr as Lucy — a pleasing second-rate 
singer. Mrs. Crouch, Miss Bolton, and Mrs. Moun- 
tain, also appeared with great success in this opera. 
Miss Stephens appeared as Polly in 1813 with less 
effect as an actress, though certainly she acquitted 
herself admiraby as a singer. We have had Pollys 
out of number since, but they will not detain us. 
Of the innumerable Macheaths there has not been 
one with a voice equal to that of Incledon. Bellamy 
at one time played the part with credit, and Mr. W" 
Harrison is the only singer we have heard who acts 
up to the character, and is a singer worthy of the 
music. 

In Dr. Arne we meet with a composer capable of 
disputing the claims to popularity of the foreign 



190 THE PROGRESS OF 

musicians of his time. Himself, his sister, and his 
brother, possessed considerable dramatic talent : 
and in the doctor's earliest operatic production, 
Addison's " Rosamond," first performed, March 7th, 
1733, at Lincoln's Inn fields, the cast embraced 
these relatives. It runs thus: — the King, Mr. Bar- 
bier; Sir Trusty, Mr. Leveridge; Page, Master 
Arne ; Messenger, Mr. Corfe ; Queen, Mrs. Jones ; 
Grideline, Miss Chambers; and Rosamond, Miss 
Arne. The latter ultimately became Mrs. Cibber, 
and was long known as a sweet and accomplished 
singer. Dr. Arne married Miss Cecilia Young, 
(a pupil of Geniniani,) a vocalist of equal celebrity. 
After " Rosamond," he brought out a burletta on 
the subject of " Tom Thumb" — produced music to 
Milton's " Comus" — and two other masques, " Bri- 
tannia," and the "Judgment of Paris;" composed 
two oratorios — "Abel" and "Judith;" wrote music 
to an afterpiece, " Thomas and Sally," and an opera, 
"Eliza," and then produced his immortal "Arta- 
xerxes." His other productions are, the music to 
the " Masque of Alfred" — to the opera of the 
" Fairies"— to the tragedies of " Elfrida" and " Ca- 
ractacus" — his additions to Purcell in " King Ar- 
thur" — his Shakspeare songs — his music to the 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 191 

Stratford Jubilee, and to the entertainment called 
" Achilles in Petticoats ;" besides several sets of 
sonatos for violins and other instruments; and a 
series of lessons for the harpsichord. He died on 
the 5th of March, 1778, and was buried in the 
church of St. Paul, Covent Garden. 

" Artaxerxes," which was first brought out 1762, 
is the most regular English opera, on the Italian 
model, produced on the stage since the performance 
of Ben Jonson's " Vision of Delight." There is, 
however, this important difference in the two, — the 
music of " Artaxerxes" was the composition of an 
Englishman, that of the masque, of an Italian ; but 
unfortunately it cannot be denied, that of Dr. Arne's 
work there is much to which he has no real title. It 
possesses many passages, note for note, from the 
foreign productions of which he was most enamour- 
ed ; he not only thus made the music as Italian as 
he could, but his chief singers, with the exception 
of Miss Brent, the original Mandane, were of the 
same nation : which brought on him the following 
castigation from the author of the " Rosciad." 



w Let Tommy Arne, with usual pomp of style, 
Whose chief, whose only merit's to compile, 



192 THE PROGRESS OF 

Who, meanly pilfering here and there a bit, 
Deals music out, as Murphy deals out wit ; 
Publish proposals, laws for taste prescribe. 
And chaunt the praise of an Italian tribe; 
Let him reverse kind nature's just decrees, 
And teach e'en Brent a method not to please ; 
But never shall a truly British age, 
Bear a vile race of eunuchs on the stage : 
The boasted works called national in vain, 
If one Italian voice pollutes the strain. 
Where tyrants rule, and slaves with joy obey, 
Let slavish minstrels pour th' enervate lay ; 
To Britons far more noble pleasures bring, 
In native notes while Beard and Vincent sing." 

The individuals mentioned by this severe satirist 
were the principal English vocalists of the period. 
There were also Miss Rafter, afterwards the cele- 
brated Mrs. Give ; Lowe, the favourite male singer 
of Drury Lane, as Beard was of Covent Garden. 
Both had remarkably fine tenor voices, but Beard 
was much the best musician. Mrs. Barbier, whose 
talents found a chronicler in Addison, and Miss 
Turner, a delightful vocalist, the chief attraction at 
the concerts then held at the Swan and Castle ; be- 
sides others we have named elsewhere. 

Miss Brent produced great effect in Mandane, 
but in a few years she had rivals capable of disputing 
the palm with her as a native singer. The princi- 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 193 

pal of these was Miss Cecilia Davis, distinguished 
in Italy, where her singing was much admired, by 
the title of L'Inglesina. This lady, however, was 
not satisfied with being considered the greatest 
singer her country had produced, she entered into 
a contest with the most fashionable Italian vocalists ; 
and in the opinion of the best judges, Gabrielli, the 
Malibran of her time, found it difficult to prove a 
superiority over her. Cecilia Davis was excelled by 
no English singer till the appearance of Mrs. Billing- 
ton, who performed Mandane for the first time on 
the 13th of April, 1787 ; and repeated the same 
character, with an effect even more brilliant, when 
she returned from Italy in 1804. Mandane has 
since been personated by all the principal female 
vocalists who have adorned the English stage ; 
among whom the most worthy of notice, are, Miss 
Bolton, Mrs. Mountain, Miss Paton, Mrs. Dickons, 
Miss Stephens, Madame Mara, Mrs. Crouch, and 
Miss Wilson, afterwards Mrs. Welsh. 

The success of the " Beggar's Opera" occasioned 
many imitations. In 1731 appeared the " Village 
Opera," which in its turn shortly after gave rise to 
the still popular opera, " Love in a Village." The 
first Madge was Miss Davies, afterwards the wife 

VOL. II. 17 



194 THE PROGRESS OF 

of the celebrated composer, Jonathan Battishill. 
Rosetta never had so able a representative as Mrs. 
Billington, who made her debut at Covent Garden 
Theatre, in that character, on the 13th of February, 
1786; and by her performance, established her re- 
putation as an operatic singer ; and though followed 
by a brilliant host of vocalists, she has not, in the 
opinion of the oldest musicians, been excelled. 
Among these we must notice Miss Bolton, after- 
wards Lady Thurlow ; Mrs. Dickons, Miss Lyon, 
afterwards Mrs. Bishop; Mrs. Mountain, Mrs. 
Crouch, and Miss Stephens. Madge has found her 
most celebrated representatives in Mrs. Bland, and 
Mrs. Liston. 

Contemporary with Dr. Arne, during a part of his 
career, was Dr. Arnold, whose first effort as an 
operatic composer was produced in 1763 at Covent 
Garden Theatre, in his twenty-third year. This was 
the " Maid of the Mill," partly a compilation, but 
containing many evidences of unusual musical 
ability. Arnold has himself stated, that so anxious 
was he to possess an opportunity of getting his 
talents before the public eye, that he accepted the 
small sum of twelve pounds for producing this 
opera. He afterwards composed several oratorios 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 195 

—the " Cure of Saul," in 1767—" Abimelech," the 
following year — "The Prodigal Son" in 1773— and 
the "Resurrection" in 1777. During the same 
period he was busily engaged in several dramatic 
performances, induced by his purchase of Mary- 
lebone Gardens, in which they were represented. 
Two of these, the " Revenge," and the " Woman of 
Spirit," were written by the unfortunate Chatterton, 
and they were performed by Mr. Reinhold, for 
many years a celebrated singer ; Mr. Charles Ban- 
nister, the father of John Bannister, Master Cheney, 
and Mrs. Thompson. 

The best productions of this composer are, how- 
ever, to be met with in the " Castle of Andalusia :" 
George Colman's "Inkle and Yarico," first per- 
formed August 4th, 1787 ; the " Battle of Hexham," 
the "Children in the Wood," and the "Cambro- 
Britons," in which he introduced his music. He 
wrote several sets of songs, both for Vauxhall and 
for Marylebone Gardens, of which the best are, 
" Come live with me, and be my love," and " Ye 
shepherds, so cheerful and gay;" that used to be 
finely sung at Vauxhall by Vernon, a favourite 
tenor singer there. He also re-composed Addison's 
" Rosamond," but his talents were not of a nature 



196 THE PROGRESS OF 

capable of a successful rivalry with those of his 
more celebrated predecessor in that opera — and 
brought forth another oratorio, " Elijah, or the Wo- 
man of Shunam," which was one of the best of his 
attempts in this species of composition. He died 
on the 22d of October, 1802, and was buried in 
Westminster Abbey. 

Dr. Boyce was another celebrated dramatic com- 
poser of the last century. His first effort for the 
stage was his music to Lord Lansdowne's masque, 
" Peleus and Thetis," which evinced talent of no 
common order. He was a pupil of Dr. Pepusch, 
and under his superintendence had studied the works 
of Palestrina, Orlando de Lasso, Stradella, Caris- 
simi, Tallis, Bird, Purcell, and Orlando Gibbons; 
but as well as possessing a mind stored with such 
learning, Dr Boyce was a musician of considerable 
invention. The very graceful melody set by him 
to Lord Chesterfield's song, M When Fanny, bloom- 
ing Fair," which may almost be said to have been 
his maiden composition, is a pleasing example of his 
originality. Strange to say, the " Masque" was 
composed by him when he, from some malady with 
which he had been afflicted, was incurably deaf; 
notwithstanding which, when it was performed by 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 197 

the Philharmonic Society, it excited universal de- 
light. 

In 1750, he produced the music of two after- 
pieces, " The Chaplet," and " The Shepherd's Lot- 
tery," which were brought out successfully at 
Drury Lane Theatre. He wrote also a dirge for 
the procession in " Romeo and Juliet," a similar 
production for " Cymbeline," and the music of the 
songs in the " Winter's Tale." In sacred music his 
genius was not less conspicuous. 

His performances on the organ were of such a 
nature, as to get him selected to be the successor of 
Mr. Joseph Kelway, organist of St. Michael, Corn- 
hill, 1736, and his general ability as a musician led, 
in the same year, to his appointment, as one of the 
composers to the king. In the service of the church 
his learning had fine scope, and the advantage to 
which he employed it may most satisfactorily be 
ascertained from his splendid serenata of "Solo- 
mon," produced by him in 1747. He also com- 
posed anthems, odes, and other productions of a 
religious character, and several concerted pieces 
for instruments — particularly twelve sonatas for 
two violins and a bass, and eight symphonies for 
violins and other instruments. He died on the 7th 

17* 



198 THE PROGRESS OF 

of February, 1779, in his sixty-ninth year, having 
been born in 1710, and was buried in the crypt of 
St. Paul's cathedral. 

Jonathan Battishill, at an early age, wrote melo- 
dies that were sung at Sadler's Wells, then of some 
repute as a place of entertainment, of which his fine 
hunting song, introduced by a recitative, " The 
Whistling Ploughman hails the Blushing Morn," 
followed by the spirited air, " Away to the Copse, 
to the Copse lead away," was long an established 
favourite. He afterwards became the conductor of 
the band in Covent Garden Theatre, where he pre- 
sided at the orchestra. In 1764, in conjunction 
with Mr. Michael Arne, he produced the music of 
a serious opera, called " Almena," in which he dis- 
played considerable dramatic ability ; but in conse- 
quence of the uninteresting character of the libretto, 
now a common fault in such performances, the piece 
did not succeed. He next produced the music of 
an entertainment called " The Rites of Hecate," in 
which his talents were better appreciated; but Bat- 
tishill is best known by his collection of songs, his 
catches and glees, many of which were very popular, 
and deserve the student's attention. His song, " Kate 
of Aberdeen," was deservedly a favourite; and his 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 199 

prize glee, written for the Nobleman's Catch Club, 
"Come, bind my brows, ye wood-nymphs fair," 
which obtained him a gold medal, in 1771, is 
another admirable example of his genius. He was 
an excellent organist, and played the masterpieces 
of Handel, Corelli, Arne, and Boyce, in a style un- 
excelled by any contemporary ; and, in conjunction 
with an actor of the name of Lee, and Mr. Joseph 
Baildon, was the projector of the dramatic perform- 
ances held at the Crown and Anchor Tavern. He 
died on the 10th of December, 1801, at the age of 
sixty-three, and was buried, by his particular de- 
sire, in St. Paul's near the remains of Dr. Boyce. 

It may be gathered, from what has been stated 
in the preceding pages, that musical talent in Eng- 
land had made great advances since the commence- 
ment of the eighteenth century. The Italian masters 
had not been studied in vain, and the same result 
which followed a knowledge of their excellence, 
waited upon a familiarity with the superior ability 
of Italian performers. Great improvement had 
taken place in the English orchestra, which, as- 
sisted by native singers, in a few years made the 
performance of an English opera rival the perfec- 
tion of its foreign rival. 



200 THE PROGRESS OF 

Among the composers who did honour to this 
period we must notice Dr. Busby, who wrote the 
music to Holcroft's " Tale of Mystery," Monk 
Lewis's " Rugantino," Miss Porter's " Fair Fugi- 
tives," and Mr. Cumberland's "Joanna;" Dr. Crotch, 
principally known as the composer of the oratorio, 
" Palestine." In glees and other vocal pieces, the 
same age may boast of the genius of the Earl of 
Mornington, Dr. William Hayes, William Jackson 
of Exeter, Samuel Webbe, Dr. Harrington of Bath, 
Dr. Callcott, Stafford Smith, Sir John Stevenson* 
Dr. Cooke, and Mr. Stevens. The principal singers 
about the same period were Vernon and Harrison, 
Michael Kelly, Incledon and Braham, as tenors ; 
Champness, Reinhold, Bartleman, John Bannister, 
Sedgwick, and Dignum, as the basses ; while the 
principal female singers were Miss Linley, (after- 
wards Mrs. Sheridan,) Mrs. Billington, Mrs. Baddely, 
Miss Phillips, (afterwards Mrs. Crouch,) Mrs. Jor- 
dan, Miss Romanzino, (afterwards Mrs. Bland,) Miss 
Mountain, Miss Poole, (afterwards Mrs. Dickons,) 
Miss Abrams, and Miss Wilson, (afterwards Mrs. 
Welsh.) 

With such assistance it may be imagined that 
the English opera, towards the close of the last 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 201 

century, obtained a footing as an entertainment 
which made it capable of rivalling in attraction, 
any dramatic performance native or foreign. 

The composers who availed themselves of such 
advantages are neither few nor undistinguished. 
We now proceed to notice the most celebrated of 
them. Of these Linley was one of the most popu- 
lar. In 1776 he produced at Drury Lane the music 
to a new two-act piece from the French, called 
" Zelima and Azor." Garrick had sold his share 
in that theatre to him, Sheridan, who afterwards 
married his daughter, and Dr. Ford, for thirty-seven 
thousand pounds; and this his first production during 
his co-management was remarkably successful. His 
son, a very fine player on the violin, then led the 
band. In 1778, he wrote the music for a very suc- 
cessful piece of Sheridan's, the " Camp," in which 
was introduced some beautiful scenery by J. P. 
Loutherburg. Bannister was the Sergeant Drill of 
the play, and made it one of his most amusing per- 
sonations. This was followed, in 1784, by his music 
in the " Spanish Rivals," first played at Drury Lane 
on the 5th of November. In 1785 his talents were 
as successfully developed in Mr. Cobb's three-act 
comic opera, " The Strangers at Home," which 



202 THE PROGRESS OF 

possessed the advantage of Mrs. Jordan's clever 
acting, and unpretending yet delightful singing. In 
other operas Linley was equally successful. He 
composed a vast quantity of the popular music of 
the time, which, with little pretension to science, 
was always agreeable to the ear. He died on the 
19th of November, 1795. As a composer for the 
voice, his principal rivals were Hook, Dibdin, and 
Shield. The former was the composer for Vaux- 
hall Gardens, where his pleasing ditties were the 
great attractions of the evening. Dibdin's songs 
are chiefly of a nautical character. Many charm- 
ing melodies may be found amongst them. As a 
musical, Shield was superior to both : his earliest 
operatic production was the " Flitch of Bacon," 
first brought out at Colman's theatre in the Hay- 
market in 1778. He was afterwards composer and 
musical director to Co vent Garden, where he pro- 
duced the music of " Rosina," which immediately 
established his reputation ; afterwards he wrote for 
O'Keefe's " Poor Soldier :" in the following March 
he had ready for its first night's representation, his 
share of the music, which comprised nearly the 
whole of M'Nally's new comic opera, " Robin 
Hood;" and on the 16th of November he produced 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 203 

his portion of O'Keefe's " Fontainbleau." In 1788 
he was equally successful with the music of * Ma- 
rian," written by Mrs. Brooks, the authoress of 
" Rosina." " The Woodman," a still more favourite 
production, was brought out at the same theatre on 
the 26th of February, 1791. Incledon, Bannister, 
and Miss Poole, gave Shield's beautiful songs with 
admirable effect. We do not find him exercising 
his genius again for the stage till 1794, when, on 
February 22d, he composed and compiled the mu- 
sical portion of the " Travellers in Switzerland," 
written by the Rev. H. Dudley ; and on the 22d of 
the following April assisted in producing the music 
of Pearce's comic opera, " Netley Abbey." 

On the 10th of November, 1795, he assisted 
O'Keefe in a musical afterpiece entitled, " The 
Irish Mimic, or Blunders at Brighton," and on the 
6th of the following February had completed the 
music for Prince Hoare's popular opera " Lock and 
Key." On the 25th of April, 1797, he had laboured 
to the same purpose for another production by the 
same writer, entitled the "Italian Villagers;" and 
the same year* he also furnished music for the 
" Wicklow Gold Mines." He contributed to seve- 
ral other dramatic pieces, particularly, in the year 



204 THE PROGRESS OF 

1807, to the opera of " Two Faces under a Hood," 
and in almost every thing he attempted, produced 
evidence of taste, expression, and originality. He 
died on the 26th of January, 1829, aged eighty-two 
years, and was buried in the cloisters of Westmin- 
ster Abbey. Shield was certainly fortunate in pos- 
sessing such singers as Billington, Miss Poole, 
Incledon, Johnstone, Bannister, and Edwin ; but 
they had as much reason to be gratified in meeting 
with such a composer. 

Some doubts exist as to Michael Kelly's right to 
a considerable portion of the music that bears his 
name. It was well known that his knowledge of 
harmony was exceedingly limited ; but whatever 
may have been his deficiencies as a musician, he 
managed to conceal them so well, as to be appointed 
director of the music and composer to Drury Lane, 
and afterwards director of the music to the Italian 
opera; and besides performing as the principal 
singer at each of these theatres, there are nearly 
sixty different operatic productions to which he at- 
tached his name. Mazzanto, a veteran Italian, is 
said to have afforded him important assistance in 
his musical works, but he shares that honour with 
one or two others. He was first the pupil of Rauz- 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 205 

zini in singing, and when he was sixteen left Ireland, 
where he was born in 1762, for Naples, where he 
obtained the patronage of the British minister, Sir 
William Hamilton, and the tuition of a much greater 
man, Aprili. By the influence of the latter he pro- 
cured an engagement at Leghorn ; and, after sing- 
ing with success at several of the Italian theatres, 
proceeded to Germany, where he had the good for- 
tune, at Vienna, to be one of the original singers in 
Mozart's " Nozze di Figaro." He made his first 
appearance in London at Drury Lane Theatre in 
the opera of " Lionel and Clarissa," and was a 
popular singer and composer for many years after- 
wards. His most successful efforts as a musician 
were produced in the once popular "Bluebeard," 
first performed at the same theatre on the 16th of 
January, 1798, in which he was a principal singer, 
and was assisted by Barrymore, Suett, Bannister, 
Mrs. Bland, Miss Decamp, (afterwards Mrs. Charles 
Kemble,) and Mrs. Crouch. " Pizarro," first pro- 
duced at Drury Lane on the 24th of May, 1799, 
owed also some obligations to him ; and the music 
of the " Peasant Boy," which is also called his, first 
represented at the Lyceum on the 1st of January, 

VOL, II. 18 



206 THE PROGRESS OF 

1811, obtained equal favour. His death occurred 
at Ramsgate on the 15th of October, 1816. 

We cannot claim Storace as an English com- 
poser, though he undoubtedly laboured extensively 
in the production of English operas ; and the same 
reason prevents our placing his sister, Signora Sto- 
race, among our vocalists, although she was for a 
long period one of the chief attractions of the Eng- 
lish stage : we therefore pass on to such as we have 
an undoubted right to. M. P. King wrote the music 
of several dramas, particularly of Mr. Kenney's 
" False Alarms, or the Blue Stocking," produced on 
the 3d of January, 1811, at Drury Lane; of Thomas 
Moore's " M.P., or the Blue Stocking," represented 
at the Lyceum on the 9th of September, 1811 ; and 
" Up all Night, or the Smuggler's Cave," an enter- 
tainment that proceeded from the latter theatre, after 
it had been rebuilt, on the 15th of June, 1816. He 
also distinguished himself as a pleasing glee-writer. 
His " When shall we three meet again ?" deservedly 
remains a favourite. 

The late Lord Dudley and Ward behaved towards 
him with extraordinary liberality, advancing him 
at different times money to the amount of 10,000/.; 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 207 

notwithstanding which, when he died, he left his 
family in straitened circumstances ; so much so, 
that, about eight or ten years since, they emigrated 
to North America, where the widow and daughters 
opened a school, and the sons taught music. 

Other operatic productions were heard from the 
stage about the same time, that possessed the music 
of Mazzinghi, Reeve, Attwood, and Davy. The 
first two of these gentlemen were the Beaumont 
and Fletcher of the opera ; and the earliest example 
of their combined talents was Cobb's "Ramah 
Droogh, or Wine does Wonders," a comic opera 
that went off successfully on the 12th of November, 
1798. With still greater effect the same union con- 
tinued in Cobb's popular " Paul and Virginia," that 
came out on the 1st of May, 1800 ; and again in 
Prince Hoare's " Chains of the Heart, or the Slave 
by Choice," first performed on the 9th of Decem- 
ber of the following year. " Paul and Virginia" 
came recommended by the delightful singing of In- 
cledon and Mrs. H. Johnston ; and the " Chains of 
the Heart" possessed no less attraction in the first 
appearance at Covent Garden of Braham and Sto- 
race. This interesting partnership dissolved a few 
years afterwards, and of their individual efforts, 



208 THE PROGRESS OF 

Reeves composed the music to Reynolds's " Out of 
Place, or the Lake of Lausanne/' produced on the 
3d of March ; and Mazzinghi furnished similar 
materials for the same author's more popular opera, 
" The Exile," brought out at the King's Theatre by 
the Covent Garden company on the 10th of Novem- 
ber, 1808. Attwood is mostly known as an operatic 
composer with Mr. Moorhead, of the music of " II 
Bondicani," an opera represented for the first time 
on the 15th of November, 1800, at Covent Garden 
Theatre ; and Davy was also associated with 
Moorhead in the production of the music of " La 
Perouse, or the Desolate Isle," a pantomimic drama 
that came out on the 28th of February of the fol- 
lowing year, and met with most decided success. 

Braham has obtained a celebrity which has not 
been surpassed by any performer on the English 
stage, the boards of which he first trod at Covent 
Garden in the character of " Shepherd Joe," in 
" Poor Vulcan," for the benefit of his master, 
Leoni. This was in 1787, fifty-three years since, 
and he is still a singer ! For a long time his suc- 
cess was any thing but certain. His encores were 
feeble, and he rarely repeated a song without con- 
siderable disapprobation ; but Signora Storace, who 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 209 

was usually on the stage with him, had a manner 
of eyeing the refractory part of the audience, when 
she led him forth to comply with the dubious encore, 
that used to silence every effort at opposition ; and 
we believe the encouragement this fashionable singer 
afforded him was the foundation of his successful 
career. 

His great effort as a composer will be found in 
Dibdin's popular comic opera, " The English Fleet 
in 1342." He had previously appeared to advantage 
as a composer in Dibdin's comic opera " The Cabi- 
net," which came out on the 19th of February, 1802, 
in the music of which he was assisted by Rauzzini, 
Davy, Reeve, Corri, and Moorhead. But "The 
English Fleet" was solely his own. It was first 
produced at Co vent Garden, the 13th of December, 
1803, with an unprecedented success; and as a 
proof that musical talent was increasing in value, 
we compare the prices received by their several 
composers for the four most popular operas pro- 
duced during the term of fifty years. For " Ar- 
taxerxes," Dr. Arne, in 1763, obtained sixty guineas ; 
for " Rosina," in 1781, Mr. Shield was satisfied with 
forty pounds ; for " the Siege of Belgrade," Storace 

18* 



210 THE PROGRESS OF 

pocketed in 1791, just one thousand pounds; and for 
the " English Fleet," in 1804, Braham, more fortu- 
nate still, received one thousand guineas. 

He assisted in composing other operas after this, 
but with very different results. Since then he has 
continued a singer, as regards sacred music, the 
most effective this country has produced. We 
remember him at the last grand musical festival 
held in Westminster Abbey, when he created an im- 
pression the Italian vocalists there engaged never 
approached. After making by his exertions during 
his long career, a fortune such as foreigners alone 
had hitherto obtained in this country, he was so ill 
advised as to embark in two speculations— -the St. 
James's Theatre and the Colosseum — by which, we 
are afraid, he has lost nearly the whole of it, 

Horn and Parry have also put forth some preten- 
sions as operatic composers, but they aim at nothing 
beyond the talent of forming pretty melodies, similar 
to those that may be found supporting the reputa- 
tion of such men as Lee, Wade, Nelson, Rodwell, 
T. Cooke, and others of about the same musical 
calibre, w 7 hose ballads have formed the staple in 
most request at the music-sellers for the last ten 
years, The works of Henry Bishop are of a much 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 211 

higher order of merit. They exhibit the resources 
of the musician — taste, learning, invention, and 
judgment, to an extent that has rarely been ex- 
celled by any of his countrymen. As a boy, he was 
distinguished by his love of the art of which he 
was ultimately to become an ornament, and his 
proficiency on more than one instrument, and faci- 
lity in composition, early attracted the notice of 
friends who knew to what advantage they might 
be applied. In a great measure, he may be said to 
have been self-taught; — the tuition of Bianchi, his 
first master, amounted to nothing very important; 
he may possibly have profited by the lessons of 
Anfossi, with whom he associated when a youth ; 
but, although instruction he did receive from more 
than one musician, his great natural talent quickly 
forced him beyond the limits of their guidance. 
The manager of one of the patent theatres became 
acquainted with his ability, and in a very short time 
afterwards Mr. P. King, who was then the first 
English opera composer, was thrown completely 
into the shade by Bishop's superior genius. He was 
appointed director of the music, and composer to 
Govent Garden — and afterwards filled the same 
office at Drury Lane. 



212 THE PROGRESS OF 

One of his earliest efforts in the musical drama 
was in a four-act opera, called " Kais, or Love in 
the Deserts," produced at Drury Lane Theatre on 
the 11th of February, 1809, in which Storace and 
Braham played the principal characters. It was 
very favourably received, and followed, on the 23d 
of the same month, by his "Circassian Bride," distin- 
guished by the performance of Miss Lyon, after- 
wards Mrs. Bishop. The night afterwards this 
theatre was burned to the ground — a fate that had 
fallen upon Covent Garden not six months before. 
In this disastrous conflagration, the composer lost 
the score and the whole of the music of his opera. 
A singular circumstance happened in connexion 
with these fires. Huntingdon, an evangelical coal- 
heaver, held forth in his conventicle in a furious 
strain of congratulation at the destruction of both 
our great theatres, which he styled the devil's 
houses, and affirmed that their being burned down 
was a manifest judgment. The following week a 
fire broke out in the next house to his chapel, which 
so completely shared the fate of the theatres as to 
leave scarcely a wall standing. 

The Drury Lane company then acted at the 
Lyceum, where Mr. Bishop laboured in his voca- 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 213 

tion for Arnold's opera, " The Maniac, or the Swiss 
Banditti," first performed on the 15th of March, 
1810. Here his ability as a musician was also 
clearly developed, but not with such effect as re- 
sulted from his labours upon Pocock's popular melo- 
drama, " The Miller and his Men," brought out in 
the winter of 1813. On the 1st of the following 
February, the Covent Garden management put forth 
a new comic opera, entitled, " The Farmer's Wife," 
written by Charles Dibdin, and composed by Bishop, 
Reeve, Condell, T. Welsh, Davy, and Addison. It 
had a favourable reception, and Bishop's share of 
the music was generally admired. Sinclair and 
Miss Stephens gave it the advantage of their " most 
sweet voices;" and on the same day in the same 
month of the following year, at the same theatre, 
associated with Reeve, he produced the music of 
another new comic opera, called "Brother and 
Sister," wherein Duruset met with a favourable re- 
ception. 

Bishop, indefatigable in his exertions, completed, 
on the 17th of January, 1815, his pleasing additions 
to Shakspeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream;" and 
by the 12th of March, in conjunction with Whit- 



214 THE PROGRESS OF 

taker, was ready with the music of " Guy Manner- 
ing." His labours on each do him infinite credit. 
By the 12th of November, 1816, he produced his 
charming music to Morton's opera, "The Slave," 
also at Covent Garden ; and on the 11th of Decem- 
ber, 1819, for the same theatre, displayed his genius 
with equal success, in illustrating Shakspeare's 
" Comedy of Errors." Our immortal dramatist 
was evidently the favourite study of Mr. Bishop, for 
in addition to the tasks we have already named, 
on the 18th of November, 1820, he produced his 
delightful embellishments to the " Twelfth Night," 
in which the Viola of Miss M. Tree was a perfor- 
mance that well deserved the reputation it procured 
her. We find him by the 18th of March, 1821, 
engaged in arranging and composing music for the 
old comedy of " The Chances," cooked up by Rey- 
nolds at Covent Garden as a sort of opera ; and on 
the 14th of February, 1822, performing a similar 
labour for an entertainment, called " Montrose, or 
the Children of the Mist." Planche's " Maid Ma- 
rian," produced on the 30th of the following No- 
vember, afforded his genius much greater scope, 
and as a natural result, his music is admirable 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 215 

throughout. Bishop was now revelling in the full 
strength of his resources, far excelling any of his 
English contemporaries, and affording proofs of 
talent that foreign musicians must have respected. 

On the 8th of May he delighted the frequenters of 
Covent Garden with a fresh display of his musical 
powers, in the still popular opera of " Clari, or the 
Maid of Milan," wherein Miss M. Tree's performance 
was again a source of extraordinary gratification. 
" The Fall of Algiers" was represented on the 19th 
of January, 1825, at Drury Lane, with less effect: 
notwithstanding which, the music is clever. Sapio 
and Miss Stephens were the principal singers ; but 
though their vocal efforts won them approbation, 
their acting was never very effective. At the same 
theatre, on the 27th of January, 1827, there was 
heard for the first time, Mr. Bishop's opera " Eng- 
lishmen in India" — comprising many very superior 
productions. Since when he has gone on in his 
career, putting forth occasionally some work, such 
as " Aladdin," to remind his admirers that he still 
possesses the imagination and judgment that charm- 
ed them in earlier years, but more frequently labour- 
ing upon indifferent dramas, which no musician 



216 THE PROGRESS OF 

could render popular ; or in arranging for the Eng- 
lish stage some of the best works of foreign com- 
posers, wherein he had had no opportunity of giving 
evidence of his originality. Fortunately, of this no 
further evidence can be required : for no English 
musician has contributed to the theatre such a mass 
of excellent dramatic music. His songs, duets, 
glees, and other concerted vocal pieces, distin- 
guished by their originality, are much too numerous 
to be here named individually ; and their merit is 
so well appreciated, that such a catalogue is unne- 
cessary. 

Bishop has undoubtedly raised himself to the 
rank of a musical classic; and the finished efforts of 
his best days are such as the most gifted musician 
might have been proud to acknowledge. In none 
of the dramas for w 7 hich his music was composed, 
has he had that scope for display which the libretto 
of the Italian, French, and German opera usually 
allows; we therefore cannot fairly compare him 
with any of the great masters who have distin- 
guished themselves in those schools, but it is no less 
true, that within the limits to which he has been 
confined, he has exhibited the legitimate resources 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 217 

of his art with an effect many of the most fashiona- 
ble Italian composers, with all their advantages, 
have never produced. 

Since the commencement of the present century 
the study of music in England has advanced in all 
its departments to an extent never previously known 
in this country. On the stage, besides the works of 
native composers, we have had in an English form, 
the master-pieces of foreign music, till we may 
almost say, that Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Ros- 
sini, Bellini, and Auber, have become naturalized 
here. Of these arrangements, we must distin- 
guish the " Fidelio" of Beethoven, and the " Som- 
nambulist" of Bellini, as possessing the two most 
important personations with which Malibran en- 
riched the English stage. A familiarity with such 
productions has had important effects. The musi- 
cal student has taken them as models, and as many 
a recent opera proves, with no inconsiderable ad- 
vantage. 

John Barnett has imbibed his ideas of his art 
from the German school. His first master was 
Bochsa, who was at this period musical director 
and composer of the King's Theatre, and in more 
than one ballet of the great harpist there brought 

VOL. II. 19 



218 THE PROGRESS OF 

out, some of the most favourite passages were pro- 
duced by Master Barnett. The latter, however, 
found that lessons came so few and far between, 
that he provided himself with another master. He 
turned his attention to the works of Spohr, Beetho- 
ven, and Weber, and traces of his attentive study 
of them may be found in each of his operas. After 
considerable experience in dramatic composition 
for unsuccessful dramas, varied by attempts of less 
pretension made when appointed composer to Ma- 
dame Vestris's Theatre, the Olympic, he produced 
his first and best work, " The Mountain Sylph," at 
the Lyceum. Popular as it has been, we regard it 
rather as an example of clever scholarship than 
genius. It is possessed of several striking passages, 
and ingenious in many of its concerted pieces, but 
as an opera it wants relief. " Fair Rosamond" and 
" Farinelli," his more recent productions, possess 
the same faults. The learning of the composer is 
somewhat too ostentatiously displayed, and often so 
as to injure his claim to originality; yet with it is 
introduced to us such beautiful phrases and inge- 
nious harmonies, as are sure to excite the admiration 
of the critic. Barnett has composed several songs 
that have enjoyed considerable popularity. Besides 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 219 

the music published with his name, he is also the 
composer of a series of songs and duets, to which 
the name of Devereux is attached, that were 
brought out a few years since. 

Balfe has studied in the Italian school, and is 
much too fond of repeating his lessons. Paesiello 
and Cimarosa would have been far better guides to 
him than the imitators of Rossini, to whose second- 
hand resources he appears so attached. In fact, 
we scarce know whether we ought to place him 
here as an English musician, for if from the works 
he has produced every exotic grace were removed, 
we are fearful what remained would be too insigni- 
ficant to deserve notice. As the composer, however, 
of the "Maid of Artois," in which Malibran's 
matchless performance has connected her name 
inseparably with the English stage, we cannot men- 
tion Mr. Balfe without our acknowledgments for 
the great gratification he enabled us to enjoy. We 
regard Falstaff (an opera he had the good fortune 
to get brought out at the Queen's Theatre) as the 
most favourable specimen of his ability as a musi- 
cian. Lablache and his talented coadjutors made 
us fancy we were listening to a superior work of 
Donizetti's. 



220 THE PROGRESS OF 

Superior to either of the composers we have 
just mentioned is Rooke, also like Balfe, who was 
his pupil, an Irishman. He is superior because he 
is infinitely more original. His genius is not so 
invalided as to require his frequently taking the 
benefit of the Spohr, like some' of his contempo- 
raries ; or his clerkly accomplishments of such a 
character as to make it necessary for his mind to 
apply itself to book-keeping in " the Italian method," 
like others. Unfortunately for him, the libretto of 
each of his operas is as uninteresting as such a thing 
could be made, and consequently he has hitherto 
been exerting musical talents of the highest order 
under the greatest disadvantage. Notwithstanding 
this, it is impossible to look into his "Amilie" or his 
" Henrique," and not admire the extent of his re- 
sources. He possesses extraordinary ingenuity both 
in melody and harmony, without showing too con- 
spicuously the mechanism of his art in either. He 
is expressive, dramatic, and often picturesque ; and 
with a drama of a high character, on which we 
should be glad to see him engaged, there is no doubt 
he would produce such an opera as must be a lasting 
ornament to the English stage. 

The dramatic efforts of Packer, Loder, and one 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 221 

or two other musicians of the present day, we look 
upon rather as promises than performances. It is 
the very foolish opinion of the majority of our com- 
posers that the libretto of an opera is a subject of 
secondary consideration, and the result is, that in- 
stead of a poetic drama, which ought to be their 
material for illustration, they obtain a foolish story, 
composed of improbable incidents and common- 
place characters, in a language that Grub Street 
would be ashamed of. We refer them to the 
masques of Ben Jonson, or the operas of Metas- 
tasio, to prove to them that better musicians than 
themselves were of a different way of thinking. 
A musical phrase should be the interpretation of a 
poetical idea, illustrated in some characteristic man- 
ner by the genius of the composer ; but without 
ideas in his author how is a musician to produce 
one in his score 1 It usually happens that the latter 
relies upon situation ; but though this resource may 
enable him to produce important effects for a time, 
it is nonsensical to imagine that these merely artist- 
ical displays will long be effectual, unsupported by 
any genuine appeal to the intellect. 

English music owes much to the different musical 
societies established in this country of late years, 

19* 



222 THE PROGRESS OF 

particularly the Philharmonic, the Societa Armonica, 
and the Society of British Musicians. The last 
was an admirable institution for the encouragement 
of native talent, and its performances did unques- 
tionably develope talent of a high order in musical 
composition. We have a very agreeable remem- 
brance of the works of Sterndale Bennet, Litolff, 
and other young composers, heard there with all 
the effect of the society's fine orchestra ; and from 
this remembrance we anticipate for them a distin- 
guished career in their profession. The voice also 
has been cultivated here with such success that we 
could afford to the Italian opera such singers as 
Mrs. Wood, and Madame Albertazzi, and Mr. 
Boisragon, (Signer Borrani ;) while our own stage 
has been enriched with such vocalists as Miss 
Bellchambers, Miss Love, Miss Povey, Miss Inve- 
rarity, Miss Sheriff, Miss Lacy, Mrs. Waylett, 
Mrs. Fitzwilliam, Madame Vestris, Miss M. Tree, 
and Miss Fanny Ayton; Mr. Phillips, Mr. Leffler, 
Mr. Balfe, Mr. W. Harrison, Mr. Allen, Mr. Barker, 
Mr. Wilson, Mr. Frazer, Mr. Collins, and Mr. Tem- 
pleton. 

In the orchestra we have been equally successful, 
having been able to boast of such performers as 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 223 

Mori, Watts, Lindley, Parke, Grattan Cooke, Will- 
man, Nicholson, Parker, and a host of others 
almost equally celebrated on their several instru- 
ments. The quartette concerts, the chamber con- 
certs, and the concerts a la Musard, were the most 
convincing evidence of the immense improvement 
that since the commencement of the century have 
taken place in the performance of instrumental 
music in England. In short, in every department 
of operatic music, great advances have been made; 
and it requires only an English musician, with a 
mind capable of employing them properly, to place 
the English Theatre on a footing of equality with its 
rivals. 

Much of the improvement which has recently 
taken place in the musical drama of this country is 
due to the exertions of Malibran, who was not only 
an example for every Englishwoman, who has since 
her performances appeared as a dramatic singer, 
but was in a great measure the instructer of her 
coadjutors, vocal and instrumental, in every opera 
in which she sung on the English stage. The 
orchestra sought as diligently to play up to her, as 
did her fellow-singers. Her extraordinary displays 
stimulated the endeavours of every individual of the 



224 THE PROGRESS OF 

slightest talent with whom she was then engaged, 
and the result appeared in operatic entertainments 
superior to every thing of the kind of native 
growth previously known. Her " Sonnambula," 
the first of these unrivalled personations, was a 
study for the musical artist ; the delicious singing, 
the finished acting, and the intimate sympathy for 
the beautiful and the intellectual which it developed, 
cannot but be fresh in the recollection of our readers. 
Amina became the type of grace and innocence, 
suffering from unjust suspicion, in situations of sin- 
gular interest, and ultimately triumphing over it, as 
completely as it should always triumph. Bellini's 
melodies are peculiarly pleasing, but heard with the 
advantage of Malibran's vocal ability they appeared 
delicious. She awakened the English public to a 
conception of the highest intellectual enjoyment that 
could be derived from the musical drama, and 
afforded such lessons to their taste, as made it capa- 
ble of appreciating the minutest excellence of musical 
science. 

No person of imagination ever witnessed her 
Amina without becoming a musician ; and by the 
same wonderful agency, the most vulgar mind was 
made sensible of intellectual impressions previously 



THE ENGLISH OPERA. 225 

unknown to him. The true-hearted heroic Fidelio 
was the next of her glorious creations. We had 
previously beheld Schroder in this character, in 
which it may be said that the fair German was as 
thoroughly at home as it was possible for so clever 
a woman of her country to be in master-pieces of 
her country's musical science, but in Malibran there 
was a grace of which Schroder was deficient, 
There can scarcely be a finer contrast than exists 
in the music of Bellini and Beethoven. The mind 
of Malibran could feel the influence and appreciate 
the excellence of both, and her impressions of the 
graceful Italian and the profound German, she was 
enabled by the exercise of her genius to convey to 
her hearers. The thunders of applause and enthu- 
siastic encores with which they rewarded its exer- 
cise, evinced the completeness with which they felt 
its influence. 

Malibran's efforts in one or two other characters 
in which she appeared at Drury Lane for a few 
nights, and even in those in Balfe's "Maid of Artois," 
are not to be compared with her previous perform- 
ances on the English stage; yet the same intellect, 
the same skill, and the same grace presided over all. 
Of the latter her Isolina was the most effective, 



226 THE PROGRESS OF THE ENGLISH OPERA. 

although she had neither the scope nor the ma- 
terials for display in either, which the resources of 
Beethoven and Bellini had provided. The impres- 
sion she made in these operas, no other singer could 
have produced. We must therefore think the more 
highly of her talent, that could create with the 
meretricious and unpopular, dramatic effects that 
she alone excelled, when assisted by two of the 
greatest masters of the modern musical drama. 



THE END. 



Boston Public Library 
Central Library, Copley Square 

Division of 
Reference and Research Services 

Music Department 



The Date Due Card in the pocket indi- 
cates the date on or before which this 
book should be returned to the Library. 

Please do not remove cards from this 
pocket. 



.■Hpfa 

° J,ya9 06851 423 9